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Az Utilities Opposing Proposed US Coal-Ash Rule

Tucson Electric Power Co. and other coal-burning Arizona utilities are opposing proposed federal rules that would designate coal ash as a hazardous waste, calling them costly and unnecessary. Spurred by the disastrous failure of a dam holding back millions of cubic yards of wet coal ash in Tennessee in 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last month it was proposing for public comment two plans for regulating coal ash storage and disposal.

One set of proposed rules would designate coal ash as "special waste" and bring ash impoundments at coal-fired power plants under federal regulations governing hazardous waste.

Another option would keep coal ash regulated by state authorities, while adding national minimum standards for coal-ash storage and disposal, including mandatory lining of storage impoundments and groundwater monitoring...

Arizona utilities say their facilities are safe and have opposed a move to label coal ash as hazardous.

Coal-ash storage ponds at two Arizona power plants - Arizona Public Service Co.'s Cholla Power Plant near Holbrook and Arizona Electric Power Cooperative's Apache plant near Willcox - are on an EPA list of sites with "high hazard" potential because of their proximity to populated areas and the attendant risk to human health.

But the utilities say current state regulation - which involves groundwater permits and monitoring and dam-safety inspections - is adequate, and classifying coal ash as hazardous could end or sharply curtail recycling of ash for use in making cement for concrete.

To read the full article in the Arizona Daily Star, click here.