05 Feb

North Carolina coal ash spill, another example of externalities

Again, a lot of this isn’t priced into your power bill as it engages the resource of government to clean up and manage whenever it happens:

“Coal ash – the residue left over from the burning of coal at power plants – reportedly contains a number of toxic heavy metals, including mercury and lead. And, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coal ash is one of the largest industrial waste sources in the U.S., with more than 136 million tons generated in 2008 alone.

There have been other coal ash spills in recent years. In late 2008, several million cubic yards of coal ash spilled into a river in Tennessee, after a dam break at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility in Kingston – an accident the EPA called ‘one of the largest and more serious environmental releases in our history.’

But coal ash is currently considered an ‘exempt waste’ under an amendment to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), meant to regulate the capture and disposal of hazardous waste materials.

(Via North Carolina coal ash spill draws new focus to controversial industrial waste – CBS News.)