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Films cite coal ash's effect on Indiana

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The drinking water for 900,000 Indiana residents is threatened by contamination from coal-ash lagoons, according to the Hoosier Environmental Council. - NICK KATULA
  • Nick Katula
  • The drinking water for 900,000 Indiana residents is threatened by contamination from coal-ash lagoons, according to the Hoosier Environmental Council.
By Veronica Carter

Indiana has the highest number of coal-ash lagoons in the country, and a series of films documenting the threat they pose if a toxic spill occurs is being shown in various locations around the state this month.

The movies paint a grim picture of what life looks like in communities threatened by coal-ash contamination. Bowden Quinn, chapter director of the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the lagoons could be a real risk to public health and the environment.

"So if they're in a risky geographical position, the dams could break and they can send huge amounts of water and ash into waterways and flood homes," he said. "That's what happened down in Tennessee a few years ago."

RELATED: How Indy's coal ash ponds can pollute neighborhood wells

The Hoosier Environmental Council has estimated that the drinking water for 900,000 people living in Indiana is at risk from contamination from coal ash. Quinn said the utilities that created these lagoons must remove them quickly and safely, and the state needs to see that they do that.

"It will take public pressure to really get the state and get the utility to clean up the lagoons so they don't pose a threat to groundwater and drinking supplies," he said.

A North Carolina-based nonprofit organization, Working Films, produced the four movies. In 2014, the second largest coal ash spill in the Unite States took place in North Carolina, when a stormwater pipe at a Duke Energy plant ruptured.




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