Coal Ash & Groundwater

 

July 18, 2018

Coal ash was exempt from waste handling laws in the United States until 2015. The 2015 rule required the utilities to check groundwater under coal ash sites.  The first round of groundwater data had to be made public no later than March 2, 2018.

The Hoosier Environmental Council reviewed all of the new groundwater reports.  The data show that where ever coal ash is stored without a liner under it, the groundwater beneath is contaminated.

In Indiana 15 power plants reported groundwater monitoring under the CCR Rule. All 15 have contamination of the groundwater so that it exceeds one or more health-based standards, and the groundwater has been rendered unfit for human consumption.  Of the 15 power plants,

  • 80% have contamination with molybdenum, half of which exceed the molybdenum health advisory for drinking water by 20-fold or more
  • 80% have contamination with sulfate, the highest being 30 times the health advisory
  • 73% have contamination with boron, 80% of those exceed the health advisory for boron by 3-fold or more
  • Two-thirds have arsenic levels that exceed the drinking water standard by 2-fold or more
  • Half of them have contamination with lithium
  • One third have contamination with cobalt and one third with radioactive radium
  • On average, each power plant has 5 contaminants that exceed safe levels in drinking water

  1. From the 2017 annual groundwater monitoring reports filed for Indiana coal-fired power plants. Links to the reports are available here.

Below are examples of contaminant levels in the data HEC has reviewed. For comparison, we have included a table of drinking water standards and health information for these chemicals.

 

IPL Harding Street Generating Station, Indianapolis

  1. Arsenic   455 ug/L
  2. Molybdenum   646 ug/L

 

IPL Eagle Valley Generating Station, Martinsville

  1. Arsenic  110 ug/L
  2. Molybdenum   268 ug/L

 

IPL Petersburg, Pike County

  1. Molybdenum   3000 ug/L
  2. Radium 6.9 pCi/L

 

A.B. Brown Generating Station, West Franklin

  1. Molybdenum   1800 ug/L
  2. Arsenic 43 ug/L
  3. Radium 8.14 pCi/Li
  4. Lithium 110 ug/L

 

NIPSCO Michigan City Generating Station, Michigan City

  1. Arsenic 40 ug/L

 

NIPSCO R.M. Schahfer Generating Station, Wheatfield

  1. Radium 9.6 pCi/L
  2. Molybdenum   3200 ug/L
  3. Lithium   300 ug/L
  4. Arsenic 100 ug/L
  5. Boron   26,000 ug/L

 

NIPSCO Baily Generating Station, Chesterton

  1. Thallium   3.9 ug/L

 

F.B. Cully Generating Station, Warrick County

  1. Lead   51 ug/L
  2. Arsenic   120 ug/L
  3. Molybdenum   410 ug/L
  4. Lithium   150 ug/L
  5. Radium   6.73 pCi/L

 

Duke Gibson Generating Station, Owensville

    1. Arsenic   210 ug/L
    2. Lead   20 ug/L
    3. Boron   28,700 ug/L
    4. Cobalt   39 ug/L
    5. Molybdenum   2700 ug/L
    6. Lithium  120 ug/L
    7. Sulfate       1710 mg/L

 

Cayuga Generating Station, Vermillion County

    1. Arsenic   17 ug/L
    2. Lead   43 ug/L
    3. Boron   17,900 ug/L
    4. Molybdenum   220 ug/L
    5. Antimony     13 ug/L
    6. Sulfate         1380 mg/L

 

Duke Wabash River Generating Station, Terre Haute

  1. Boron   44,700 ug/L
  2. Lead   20 ug/L
  3. Arsenic 16 ug/L
  4. Molybdenum   1300 ug/L
  5. Lithium       590 ug/L
  6. Sulfate   1350 mg/L
  7. Cobalt   9.7 ug/L

 

Duke Gallagher Generating Station, New Albany

  1. Boron   21,600 ug/L
  2. Arsenic   91 ug/L
  3. Molybdenum   3100 ug/L
  4. Lead   18 ug/L
  5. Cobalt   15 ug/L
  6. Sulfate   847 mg/L

 

 

IKE Clifty Creek Station, Madison

  1. Radium 34.176 pCi/L
  2. Arsenic 79.2 ug/L
  3. Molybdenum 3080 ug/L
  4. Boron 10,900 ug/L
  5. Cobalt 13.7 ug/L
  6. Lithium 632 ug/L
  7. Sulfate 1160 mg/L