Fanning the Stigma Flames

            Yesterday’s ash blog showed how architects and engineers won’t take the time to sort out whether coal ash is “hazardous.” But it gets worse. Competing product manufacturers stand ready to fan the flames of uncertainty that would be created by EPA’s potential “hybrid” approach to coal ash disposal regulation.

            Case in point: For decades, boiler slag has been one of the most successfully recycled products of coal combustion at power plants.  According to the American Coal Ash Association, a whopping 83.3 percent of boiler slag was recycled in 2008.  Almost 1.5 million tons of the material was used for blasting grit and roofing granules.  As a blasting grit, the material safely replaced sand-based products that pose a risk of causing silicosis – a serious lung disease – in workers using the products.

            Below is a magazine advertisement that was published in December by a manufacturer of a blasting grit product that competes with boiler slag-based products. “Is it safe to blast with coal slag abrasives?” the ad declares. “Why take the chance…?” it concludes as it references potential EPA actions to label the material “hazardous.”

            The advertisement doesn’t mention that EPA may only propose to treat some forms of ash disposal as hazardous while continuing to support recycling.  The entire resource is tainted with an unwarranted hazardous stigma that competing product manufacturers are all too happy to exploit.

Coal ash disposal regulations can be improved without creating a stigma for the coal ash resource.  EPA should abandon its unworkable “hazardous when disposed” approach.

Posted by: on: Feb 24, 2010 @ 11:58