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Federal coal ash disposal requirements require ongoing compliance efforts

| Feb 1, 2016 | Environmental Law |

In our last post, we spoke briefly about the criticism from elected officials and citizens in Wayne County directed against a coal ash waste disposal plan. As we mentioned, companies which produce coal ash waste are required to abide by state and federal rules and regulations concerning coal ash waste.

At the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for overseeing compliance with the rules governing coal ash disposal. Under current regulations, there are technical requirements for coal combustion residual landfills and surface impoundments. In addition to these requirements, federal regulations also address matters such as leakage of contaminants into ground water, air pollution from coal ash residuals, and rules applying to the catastrophic failure of coal ash impoundments.

Federal regulations also include provisions relating to record-keeping and reporting requirements, recycling of coal combustion residuals, and public disclosure of coal ash disposal compliance.

Under the current scheme, states are allowed to submit their own plans to manage solid wastes, and most states have in fact submitted plans and had them approved by the EPA. States are allowed to enact requirement surpassing those required at the federal level.

Compliance with coal ash disposal requirements is important for companies, not only in order to avoid penalties that arise from noncompliance, but also to avoid litigation from populations adversely affected by failure to follow federal regulations. Companies in the coal industry need to ensure they develop and maintain effective compliance programs in this area, and working with an experienced environmental law attorney is an invaluable resource for doing so. 

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