A historically beautiful stream known as the Little Blue Run covers nearly one thousand acres of rolling, rural landscape in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Little Blue Run is now filled with arsenic-laced waste from a coal-fired power plant. In tiny Greene Township, where the pond consumes more than ten percent of the total land, little blue run seems like a wasteland. This coal ash, tinted blue has overtaken this valley, rising each year by a million tons, blanketing the trees so they look like pixie dust. Residents say dry ash wafts into their yards, its sulfuric smell burning their throats. Residents can even hear the swooshing sound as coal ash cascades down a pipe stretching seven miles from the Bruce Mansfield Power Station, in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.
The people are demanding that the government needs to start regulating this coal ash before it consumes their homes and lives. The Environmental Protection Agency considers a couple options of regulation. Under the toughest option, the agency would essentially classify coal ash as “hazardous” triggering a series of strict controls for it’s dumping. The EPA’s second option would deem coal as “non-hazardous,” and subject it to less stringent national standards that amount to guidelines for the states.
Little Blue Run epitomizes the need for federal regulation. The residents believe that their water wells have grown increasingly tainted with coal ash. These wells host a list of ailments, including allergic reactions, and cancers. The residents are living in fear due to the poisons in their drinking water. The EPA says that these fears are justified true due to the high cancer risk from arsenic levels nine hundred times above what is deemed safe.
Title: One Town’s Recurring Coal Ash Nightmare. Little Blue Run is Anything But: would Federal Regulation Help?
Publication: PublicIntegrity.org, November 17, 2010
Author: Kristen Lombardi
Faculty Evaluator: Professor Sheila Katz, Sonoma State University
Student Researcher: Sam Bergman, Sonoma State University