Some state legislators want public hearings and more research to determine if changes are needed in the way Iowa regulates coal ash disposal. The Department of Natural Resources met with opposition from quarries and mines where the ash is dumped when it began drafting tougher regulations last year.
The D.N.R. then dropped the issue after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it would redraft federal regulations for coal ash disposal. Donna Wong-Gibbons, the public health specialist with the environmental advocacy group "Plains Justice", says the ash contains deadly chemicals that pose health risks.
She says the ash contains arsenic, a known carcinogen that causes several types of cancer. There’s also lead that is particularly toxic to children. Wong-Gibbons says two other midwestern states have experienced problems with ash leaching into groundwater.
Wong-Gibbons says the Highway 59 ash landfill in Wisconsin led to contamination of wells that cost $6.6 million to clean up. She says in water was contaminated in Gibson County Indiana and residents had to bring in bottled water.
Wong-Gibbons says Iowa has accepted coal waste from both Wisconsin and Indiana. Wong-Gibbons made her comments on the Iowa Public Radio program "The Exchange." She also spoke today to the Iowa Environmental Commission.