EPA announces new rules regulating coal ash storage and disposal that will affect 33 states

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to issue its first ever guidelines on the handling and storage of coal ash.

The waste produced by coal-fired power plants is at the center of a marathon legal battle, and a federal judge has given the EPA until Friday to decide just how much a threat coal ash poses.

The move comes after two massive coal ash spills: In 2008 a dike at a Tennessee power plant failed and a billion gallons of coal ash and water nearly wiped a nearby town off the map. This past February a storm water pipe burst at another plant in North Carolina, sending 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River.

Storage sites are located in 33 states and sites in a dozen states are considered to have a significant or high hazard potential.

Environmentalists claim coal ash poses a long-term health hazard to millions of Americans.

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