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Vast majority of power plants, including Stanton, violate federal regulations with toxic coal ash, report says

The cooling towers at the Stanton Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant, are seen behind a home in Orlando. Photo courtesy NPR
The cooling towers at the Stanton Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant, are seen behind a home in Orlando. Photo courtesy NPR

A new report says that 96% of power plants nationwide -- including Stanton Energy Center in Orlando -- are violating federal regulations aimed at addressing the toxic legacy of coal ash. 

The report from the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice says the coal ash dumps are continuing to contaminate groundwater with unsafe levels of toxic chemicals. 

Coal ash is the waste that remains after coal is burned for electricity. Stanton is not at the top of the list, but Abel Russ of the Environmental Integrity Project raises concern about that. 

“Some of those low-ranked sites are not necessarily clean. They might be ranked low because they don’t have enough monitoring wells, and so they don’t actually have the right kind of data.” 

At Stanton, the report says monitoring wells are poorly placed for measuring contamination, a violation of the regulations. OUC, which oversees Stanton, says the coal ash landfill is safe.

Lisa Evans of Earthjustice says power plants are doing little or nothing to address the problem. 

“There are solutions. There are solutions to clean up. There are solutions for relatively safe disposal. This is not a problem that can’t be solved. The problem is the intransigence of the industry in not being willing to solve the problem.”  

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, among many other publications. She began her career at The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. Amy grew up in Florida and lives in Orlando with her 7-year-old daughter.