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After four years of exhaustive study, the Task Force is releasing, Impacts on Water Quality from Placement of Coal Combustion Waste in Pennsylvania Coal Mines, a comprehensive examination of monitoring data from 15 coal surface coal mines in Pennsylvania that have received large volumes of coal ash. Despite persistent claims by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that there is no evidence that coal ash has ever contaminated water in a coal mine in Pennsylvania, this Study finds plenty of evidence from monitoring data that ash is contaminating groundwaters and surface waters in ten of the fifteen mines with levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, nickel, zinc, copper, and other pollutants exceeding drinking water standards and water quality standards often by many times. This contamination is posing a threat to humans and the environment. A local organization, the Mahanoy Creek Watershed Association is already using the data in the study to call for EPA intervention under Superfund to address contamination at the largest minefill studied by the Task Force. The study catalogs basic and serious deficiencies in the permits for these minefills and recommends enforceable safeguards in regulations to isolate the ash, monitor it properly and cleanup the pollution it is causing.
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