Coal Ash


Gallagher Generating Station, New Albany © 2016 BlairPhotoEVV

Coal is still Indiana’s primary source of electricity. After coal is burned for electricity, there is ash left over. Unfortunately, coal contains traces of heavy metals that are more concentrated in the ash after the carbon is burned off.  When coal ash is in contact with water, or water from rain or snow runs through it, the water can become contaminated with heavy metals.

Image by Alan Morin for the Clean Air Task Force


March 2018 – Coal Ash Impacting Groundwater

The utilities have just released reports on new groundwater monitoring at coal ash sites.

Coal ash was exempt from waste handling laws in the United States until 2015. The rule established in 2015 (known as the CCR or Coal Combustion Residuals Rule) had a number of requirements including one to check groundwater under coal ash storage sites.  The first round of groundwater data had to be made public no later than March 2, 2018.

There are 15 power plants in Indiana with coal ash landfills, coal ash ponds, or both that are subject to the CCR Rule. Each of those 15 plants have between 1 and 4 groundwater reports.  The reports vary in length between 24 and 2500 pages.

As of this writing, the Hoosier Environmental Council has not completed its evaluation of this massive amount of groundwater data, but we have seen enough to confirm that where ever coal ash is stored without a liner under it, the groundwater beneath is contaminated.  See examples of findings from those reports here.

Links to the utilities’ reports.

Map of Indiana coal ash sites.


June 2017

Read our news release and coalition comments on Duke Energy’s proposed closure plans for its Cayuga, Gallagher, Gibson, and Wabash River Generating Stations’ coal ash lagoons.

And read the technical reviews for Cayuga, Gallagher, Gibson(north), Gibson (south) and Wabash River Stations.


December 2016

Read our fact sheets on IPL’s risky and environmentally-unsound plans to close their coal ash lagoons at the Harding Street Generating Station and the Eagle Valley Generating Station here:

Harding Street Generating Station

Eagle Valley Generating Station


Read NUVO’s in-depth report on the contamination concerns at IPL’s Harding St. power plant coal ash lagoons.


Why is coal ash an environmental problem? 

Over 100 million tons of coal ash are generated every year in the United States.  Much of this ash is dumped in surface impoundments — lagoons and ponds — that are located directly above floodplain aquifers and built without liners or other protection for these groundwater resources which are often used for drinking water by nearby residents.  Indiana has more of these coal ash lagoons — 84 in total — than any other state.   Because of the lax requirements for coal ash disposal, spills and groundwater pollution have occurred in many places, including at 13 sites in Indiana.  When it comes into contact with water, coal ash leaches dangerous levels of toxic contaminants, including arsenic, mercury, chromium and selenium.

Two new U.S. EPA rules will provide for greater oversight of coal ash disposal, but citizens including HEC and our supporters must continue to be vigilant in monitoring and shaping state and federal coal ash regulation.


HEC releases report on the coal ash ponds at Vectren’s Posey County power plant.  

Read: Coal Ash at A.B. Brown & Public Health — Executive Summary

Read the full report:  Coal Ash at A.B. Brown & Public Health.

aerial view of AB Brown by Blair

Coal ash ponds at A.B. Brown Power Plant near Evansville.  © 2016 BlairPhotoEVV


Are the coal ash lagoons at Indiana’s power plants complying with new U.S. EPA rules governing coal ash disposal at lagoons and landfills?  Find out at these electric utility web pages where the power plants report on their compliance actions:

Indianapolis Power and Light

Harding Street Generating Station

Eagle Valley Generating Station

Petersburg Generating Station

Duke Energy

Gibson Generating Station

Cayuga Generating Station

Wabash River Generating Station

Gallagher Generating Station


A.B Brown Generating Station

F.B. Culley Generating Station

American Electric Power

Rockport Generating Station

Tanner’s Creek Generating Station

Northern Indiana Public Service

Schahfer Generating Station

Michigan City Generating Station

Bailly Generating Station

Indiana-Kentucky Electric Co.

Clifty Creek Generating Station

Hoosier Energy

Merom Generating Station

Ratts Generating Station 





For a complete overiew of coal ash in Indiana, read HEC’s “Our Waters at Risk” Report.  

Our Waters At Risk: the Health and Environmental Threats from Coal Ash Disposal in Indiana, with a Closer Look at the Coal Ash Ponds at IPL’s Harding Street Station
CLICK HERE to access the executive summary
CLICK HERE to access the full report
CLICK HERE to access the appendices


Read HEC and partners’ comments on IDEM’s proposed coal ash disposal plan here.    More information on IDEM’s plan can be found here.

Read the latest news on IDEM’s proposed coal ash disposal plan.


Nine Organizations Call on County Health Department to Use Its Authority to Compel IPL to Carry Out Comprehensive Groundwater Testing at At-Risk Lagoons

CLICK HERE to read the letter.

HEC Fact Sheet: What we know about groundwater contamination at the IPL Harding  Street coal ash lagoons

CLICK HERE to view IDEM water sample.

CLICK HERE to view 1989 groundwater results.







The Town of Pines, Indiana, is a tragic example of the toxicity of coal ash and improper disposal.  In 2002, the Town of Pines was declared a federal Superfund site, due to contaminated groundwater from coal ash in a nearby unlined landfill and the use of coal ash to build roads and as fill around the town.  Read “Not in My Lifetime: The Fight for Clean Water in the Town of Pines, Indiana.”

Check out an interactive map of coal ash spills and contaminated sites.