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Residents Ask: Do Coal Ash Changes Go Far Enough?

BEAVER COUNTY (KDKA) -- For decades residents in Beaver County have lived next to a sprawling lagoon called Little Blue -- the largest coal ash impoundment in the nation -- which has leached chemicals into their groundwater and wells.

And while they rely on the nearby Shippingport coal-fired power plant for jobs and energy, the residents want the coal ash it produces to be properly disposed.

"If it's not done correctly," said Sandy Wright in Greene Township. "Then people end up with a lot of health problems, the contamination of the ground water, the cost to local government that wants to see it's people protected."

After local residents and officials went to Washington D.C. to voice those concerns, the federal government last Friday announced new rules on fly ash, requiring minimum structural standards including liners for new impoundments, and for the power companies to monitor existing sites to detect leaks.

Environmentalists spoke, however, with expressed disappointment that the rules do not go far enough. They said the feds did not designate fly ash as a hazardous waste and left the reporting of problems up to the utilities themselves, leaving it up to the state or local groups to be their watchdogs.

But while characterizing these new regulations as baby steps, resident and activists said they are at least steps in the right direction and may prevent contamination in the future.

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