Texas Power Plant Groundwater Tied to Coal Ash Pollutants

Nov. 7, 2019

Texas’ Coleto Creek Power Plant is one of 16 coal plants in the state allegedly responsible for the contamination of nearby groundwater. 

Coleto Creek Power Plant in Goliad, Texas is among 16 coal plants in the state allegedly responsible for contaminating nearby groundwater with pollutants linked to coal ash, according to Victoria Advocate

A report released by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) found elevated concentrations of multiple pollutants, such as arsenic, mercury, boron and lead in groundwater wells near the primary ash pond at the plant. 

The primary ash pond is classified as unlined, as it does not meet liner criteria set by the U.S. EPA to help prevent contaminants from leaching from coal ash units and contaminating groundwater. None of the coal ash ponds in Texas meet EPA requirements for liners, according to the report.

470 coal-fired electric utilities generated approximately 110 million tons of coal ash in 2012, according to the EPA.

Research groups are advocating for the U.S. EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are calling for stricter regulations for coal waste disposal. The Coal Ash Rule, which was established in 2015, requires power companies to make their groundwater monitoring data available to the public. 

Meranda Cohn, director of media relations for Luminant, alleges the report is not statistically valid because the data it uses is from initial stages of groundwater monitoring detection under the rule, reported Victoria Advocate. Groundwater and drinking water requirements are different, according to Cohn.

The report uses the EPA’s protective standards for each pollutant, except for boron and sulfate. These pollutants do not have groundwater protection standards under the Coal Ash Rule, according to the EIP

Despite the discovery, “Luminant has no current plans to close the Coleto Creek Power Plant, which provides efficient and reliable electric power for Texas,” said Cohn.

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Cristina Tuser