Indiana has been interpreting existing laws in a way that allows millions of tons of coal ash to be left in contact with groundwater and disposed of in floodplains. When coal ash gets wet, it contaminates water with toxic heavy metals. All the unlined coal ash disposal sites in Indiana have contaminated local groundwater with a variable mix of molybdenum, lithium, boron, arsenic, cobalt, antimony, radium, lead, selenium, and thallium. Leaving coal ash in contact with groundwater means the contamination goes on indefinitely. Getting it out of groundwater prevents contamination.
Flood-prone areas, like the floodplains of Lake Michigan and our major rivers, are among the worst locations for coal ash disposal, yet the majority of Indiana’s coal ash is currently disposed of in floodplains.
The EPA made important clarifications of the federal coal ash rule on January 11, but that did not eliminate the need for one of these bills to pass. Passage would have put safe coal ash disposal in state law and that would have meant continued protection of Indiana’s waters even if a future administration in Washington, DC, changed the federal rule.
Bills were introduced in both the Indiana House and Senate to protect Indiana’s natural resources by getting coal ash out of groundwater and out of the floodplain: HB 1335 in the House and SB 412 in the Senate. Neither bill received a hearing in committee, so they did not move forward.
Please visit IndianaCoalAsh.org for more information on HEC’s work to get safe coal ash disposal in Indiana.