Fear Tactics Threaten One of America's Greatest Recycling Success Stories

(PR Newswire 1-25-10) Every year the United States produces about 70 million tons of fly ash from coal-fired power plants. This material has physical and chemical properties that make it an ideal substance for making concrete. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promotes recycling fly ash and other byproducts of coal combustion through its Coal Combustion Products Partnership, a consortium of governmental and industry groups. The agency identifies recycling of these materials a "national priority." Decades of sound science and practical application confirm these materials are safe and pose no threat when managed properly.
Environmentalists against coal-fired power are pressuring the EPA to label fly ash and other coal combustion byproducts "hazardous" and "toxic" against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They have published reports ignoring sound scientific methods with data taken out of context to draw erroneous conclusions intended to evoke fear and force action at a pace too fast to allow for the development of sound and reasoned regulation.
Following the 1 billion gallon coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee in December 2008, environmentalists were emboldened and launched a media campaign with their terms "toxic coal ash" and "toxic sludge." Reporters by and large have adopted these terms without question.  However, most media outlets have ignored the research on toxicity. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Tennessee Department of Health issued a draft report on the public health impacts of the Kingston spill. This report confirms what experts on fly ash and other coal combustion byproducts have stated for years:  these materials do not pose a threat when properly managed. 
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