Most ponds and landfills holding coal waste across the U.S. have leaked toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater, report finds

The vast majority of ponds and landfills holding coal waste at 250 power plants across the country have leaked toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater, according to an analysis of public monitoring data released by environmental groups.

The report, published jointly by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, found that 91 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power plants reported elevated levels of contaminants such as arsenic, lithium, chromium and other pollutants in nearby groundwater.

In many cases, the levels of toxic contaminants that had leaked into groundwater were far higher than the thresholds set by the Environmental Protection Agency, the groups said.

The findings raise questions about whether any of the leaks might affect drinking water supplies. Companies were required to release their monitoring data for the first time last year as part of an Obama-era rule to regulate storage of coal waste.

The 2015 regulations, which dictated how coal ash must be stored across the country, were finalized in the wake of two high-profile spills in Tennessee and North Carolina, which collectively contaminated waterways and damaged nearby homes.

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