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Little change seen in MD from coal ash disposal rules

December 27th, 2014 by WCBC Radio

Disposal of contaminant-laced ash from coal-burning power plants appears unlikely to change much in Maryland under long-awaited new federal regulations announced this month, a state environmental regulator said. Horacio Tablada, land management director for the Maryland Department of the Environment, said that coal-ash rules unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency after years of study largely track restrictions the state adopted in 2008. The EPA laid out safeguards intended to protect communities from coal-ash impoundment failures, like the catastrophic spill in Kingston, Tenn. six years ago.  The agency also set requirements meant to prevent ground-water contamination and air emissions from coal-ash disposal, either in landfills or impoundments. The federal rules, which take effect in July, drew praise from industry groups, which had argued that coal ash can be safely disposed of in the same kinds of landfills that now take municipal garbage.  Environmentalists, however, had argued that because of arsenic and other toxic contaminants in coal ash that it ought to be treated more like a hazardous waste. Activists criticized the EPA rules as weak

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