FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22nd, 2011
CONTACT: Vinny Spotleson (onsite) 702.285.6588, firstname.lastname@example.org
Proposed expansion of the toxic coal-ash landfill
at NV Energy’s Reid Gardner power plant:
How it threatens southern Nevada’s air, water and public health
The Reid Gardner Power Plant (highlighted in blue is the Muddy River)
On April 28, the Southern Nevada Health District’s 12-member Board of Health will vote on a permit for the proposed expansion of a toxic coal-ash waste disposal at NV Energy’s Reid Gardner power plant in Moapa. The proposal would add nine additional toxic coal-ash slurry ponds and expand the site’s unlined landfill by nearly 50 percent, from 91 to 136 acres. The expansion would allow NV Energy to continue dumping millions of tons of coal-ash waste and toxic material from scrubbers and filters into the landfill for another 40 years.
- Coal ash waste is highly toxic – Coal ash is a combination of the ash material that is generated by burning coal mixed with the waste contaminants captured by scrubbers and filters. Coal-ash waste contains a number of harmful and toxic chemicals, including: arsenic, selenium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium, which have been linked to organ disease, cancer, respiratory illness, neurological damage and developmental problems.
- The existing coal-ash waste facilities at Reid Gardner leak and have already contaminated surrounding land and groundwater – The 91-acre landfill is unlined and has been leaching contaminants into the surrounding groundwater since at least 1998 (See http://bit.ly/f8Sccq, page 63). Wells around the landfill exceed Nevada Department of Environmental Protection levels for: boron, chloride, magnesium, molybdenum, sodium, sulfate, total dissolved solids and vanadium. Monitoring also has documented contamination by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and petroleum hydrocarbons. NDEP technical documents show that contaminants have leached onto adjacent properties. Under NV Energy’s proposal, most of the new coal-ash waste generated at the plant would be dumped on top of this same unlined landfill.
- The inferior design of the new landfill means it will leak, too – NV Energy’s proposed 45-acre landfill expansion is designed with just a single lining underneath the additional area. The safest industry standard for such a facility is for at least a double liner. NV Energy’s own computer models show that enormous quantities of contaminated material – 3.6 million to 46 million gallons per year – are expected to leach from the site into groundwater. The models also indicate that after the plant’s closure, more than a million gallons per year will continue to infiltrate and pollute surrounding land and groundwater each year, forever.
- The watershed that provides Las Vegas with drinking water could be compromised – NV Energy refuses to provide meaningful information to the Board of Health about the exact chemical mixture or movement of the landfill’s pollutants, including whether the existing contamination plumes have reached the Muddy River and beyond, including Lake Mead— the main water source for Las Vegas. The Muddy River drains into Lake Mead on the northern fork of the reservoir near Overton.
- Wind-blown toxic coal-ash dust is scattered across the neighboring Moapa community – The Reid Gardner coal plant generates 261,000 tons of coal ash a year. Clouds of dust from the heaps it is dumped in blow across the adjacent community of the Moapa Band of Paiutes. Coal ash is laden with heavy metals and other toxics, which has led many health organizations, including the Physicians for Social Responsibility, to support treating the material as a hazardous waste.
- Nevada state law prohibits landfill waste from polluting air or water – See Nevada Revised Statutes: 444.560, and Nevada Administrative Code 444.644 and 444.739. Rather than approve NV Energy’s proposed expansion, as health district staff has recommended, the health board should instead deny the permit and require remediation on the existing leaking and deficient waste sites at Reid Gardner.
For more information:
Sierra Club Las Vegas, NV office: 702-732-7750 or Vinny.Spotleson@sierraclub.org
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