(NBC News) The Environmental Protection Agency has outlined national standards for storing coal ash, but stopped short of declaring it a hazardous material.
The E.P.A. is regulating how the waste is stored after two major accidents in the past six years which sent coal ash into American waterways and nearly wiped a Tennessee town off the map.
The new standards classify coal ash as a solid waste, the same as household garbage, and not a hazardous material as environmental groups had called for.
The new guidelines set integrity and construction standards for coal ash retention ponds, including the requirement that new ones be designed with liners that would prevent leaching.
The regulations also mandate the installation of groundwater monitoring systems to make sure toxins don’t pollute water supplies and will require the immediate cleanup and closure of old retention ponds which are contaminating groundwater.