Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal to produce power, needs to be properly disposed of or it can cause pollution and health problems by getting into the water system, poisoning and smothering plant and animal life. Currently the EPA policy is to put the coal ash in landfills with liners and ways of monitoring the groundwater around them, as well as protective coverings. Theoretically, this should keep any toxic minerals out of the groundwater. However, accidents happen, such as a Dec. 22, 2008 spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennesee which poured a billion gallons of toxic material over 300 acres, encouraging rethinking on the issue. One idea is to reclassify coal ash as hazardous waste (it is currently classified simply as solid waste), which would require even more stringent regulations.
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