Is fly ash toxic?

(LAKELAND) — The Environmental Protection Agency is thinking about classifying the byproduct of coal power plants as toxic waste. Probably not something you want to hear if you live anywhere near a power plant.

It’s called fly ash. It’s what’s left when companies like Lakeland Electric, TECO and Florida Progress burn coal, capture the energy, and generate electricity.

Here’s what concerns scientists: it contains mercury, arsenic and lead, which can cause cancer, heart attacks and stroke.

Right now, the EPA is having a series of meetings to give people a chance to voice their opinions on fly ash. There is no word when the agency will make its call.

If it is ever is considered toxic waste, it will have to be buried in special landfills. The closest one to Lakeland Electric is in Alabama, and it would cost Lakeland about $5 million a year to dispose of it.

“We would have to build in that cost into our operating costs,” said Lakeland Electric spokesman Kevin Cook.

That could increase the cost of electricity, not only in Lakeland, but possibly for customers of other power companies that rely on coal across the state.

By: Ken Suarez

Is fly ash toxic?:

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