While we do not put coal sludge into naturally-occuring/resevoir-like ponds and lakes (the things we usually think of as ponds and lakes, with wildelife and the like), the coal industry does put coal sludge into large, man-made ponds called impoundments. Dams are made with the solid waste created in coal mining, and the coal sludge is kept in.
The very nature of coal sludge mean that it is not “treated” in any way. It is, essentially, a by-product. Although coal sludge may contain largely rocks and mud, it also has dangerous toxic chemicals in it. Impoundments are intended to keep this dangerous, untreated (and perhaps untreatable) substance out of the rest of the world. But, as shown in Tennessee in 2008 (see link below), impoundments can fail and may have negative effects on the environment, including animal habitat and drinking water.
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