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While seven hearings have been scheduled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consider a classification for coal ash, not one was scheduled in Tennessee, the site of the TVA coal ash disaster in 2008.
A coalition of environmental justice organizations — forming the Citizens’ Coal Ash Hearing Committee — will host a people’s hearing to help ensure that the voices of those who have been impacted have a chance to testify.
The people’s hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday Sept. 2 at the Roane State Community College.
The hearing will provide time to collect testimony and comments to be presented to the EPA regarding the ongoing coal combustion residuals rulemaking process.
An EPA official will provide a brief overview of the proposals prior to the people’s hearing.
“Not one of the scheduled hearings is within a reasonable distance of Roane County,” said Cathie Bird, strip-mine committee chair with Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment or SOCM. “This disaster was the impetus for the current rulemaking process.”
With input provided through the hearing process, the EPA is considering two classification regulations for coal ash. Under the firstl, EPA would list coal ash as special wastes subject to regulation under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, when destined for disposal in landfills or surface impoundments. Under the secondl, EPA would regulate coal ash under Subtitle D of the RCRA, the section for non-hazardous wastes.
For Tennessee residents, the closest hearing scheduled by the EPA was in Louisville, Ky., more than a four-hour drive from Roane County.
“The residents of the Roane County area know firsthand the realities of coal ash,” said Joshua Ulan Galperin, Policy Analyst and Research Attorney with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “It’s an utter shame that they would be left out of this process. This people’s hearing has been organized so that the people of Roane County and the surrounding areas, who have been affected by toxic coal ash, have the opportunity to take part in the rulemaking process.”
Sarah McCoin of Roane County has been outspoken on the TVA disaster.
“When I walk to the far end of my family farm, to the Emory River, I question how safe my property is,” she said. “In fact, I have not been in the river since the disaster. Each day when I leave my home, I am once again faced with the challenges of the TVA coal ash disaster, something completely overlooked by our federal government, EPA and most people who live in America. Not me, not my family, not my relatives and friends, we remain here on Swan Pond Circle Road with our environment forever challenged by the TVA coal ash disaster.”
“Coal fly ash, while not officially considered hazardous, contains heavy metals and radioactive elements that no one would want anywhere near their drinking water supplies,” said Renée Victoria Hoyos, executive director of Tennessee Clean Water Network. “We hope to send a message to EPA to fully protect the public from contaminated water supplies by classifying coal fly ash as hazardous waste.”
Find a list of the EPA hearings here: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/nonhaz/industrial/special/fossil/ccr-rule/ccr-....
Read about the proposed rules here: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/nonhaz/industrial/special/fossil/ccr-rule/inde....
The Citizen’s Coal Ash Hearing Committee is asking that Tennessee residents attend the peoples’ hearing to take part in the rulemaking process.
For more information, contact Josh Galperin, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 637-6055 Ext. 23 or at email@example.com or Chris Hill, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, 426-9455; firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
SOCM is a member-run organization that encourages civic involvement and collective action.