USEPA Evaluates The Fly Ash Mess Nationally: First Self-Reporting Deadline In 10 Days
USEPA is requiring large scale coal burning operations and their corporate owners to self-report on approximately 300 US fly ash impoundments. This is only round one, but takes the necessary first step toward harmonized national regulations and enforcement standards for impoundment design, operation, maintenance, and closure.
Recipients have ten days to respond to EPAs letter of request. It's going to be an exciting week for Corp Councils, PR departments, and execs who would prefer ash-filled lagoons to not be a topic of public and regulatory attention.
FOIA holds the key.
Owners of at-risk impoundments can probably imagine a roar of public outcries that will come once these and followup reports or investigations are made public. If the Obama Administration re-opens public access to environmental files under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as had been the norm before the preceding (Bush) Administration played the terrorism threat protection card, keeping nearly everything but press releases sealed, this summer will be "pass the popcorn" time.
From the EPA news release:
In letters today, EPA requested that electric utilities that have surface impoundments or similar units provide information about the structural integrity of their units. EPA estimates there may be as many as 300 such units. These information requests are legally enforceable and must be responded to fully.Context for the letter sent to facilities and corporate owners is here. They're not fooling around. Per the following sample letter shown by EPA, impoundment operators and/or owners have ten days from receipt of the letter to respond.
Working closely with other federal agencies and the states, EPA will review the information provided by the facilities to identify impoundments or similar units that need priority attention. EPA also will visit many of these facilities to see first hand if the management units are structurally sound.
Think those living near fly-ash filled impoundments will be contacting their Congressional representatives to make sure that everything they know about gets reported? You bet they will. Follow the link above to the list of recipients.