Indianans worry about their coal ash impoundments

December’s Kingston, Tennessee, coal ash spill that dumped 1.1 billion pounds of toxic material on to 300 acres of rural east Tennessee property, destroying homes and damaging property in its wake, continues to raise concerns for those living near similar treatment plants in other states, especially Indiana, according to The Bloomington Alternative. Indiana stores more coal ash in manmade impoundments than any other state, which has locals worried what damage would be caused if one of its coal ash lagoons failed and dumped toxic material onto nearby land.

Coal ash contains toxins such as arsenic, lead, barium, chromium and manganese. These toxins have been associated with serious health conditions such as cancer, liver damage and neurological complications. When the coal ash spilled from the Kingston TVA plant, it poured over property and into nearby rivers. While the contaminants are being cleaned from the ground and waterways, some scientists worry that long term effects on wildlife and plant life could ultimately affect human life.

Indiana has 13 coal ash ponds in 13 different counties. The largest, containing nearly 900,000 tons of ash, is located in Gibson County. Gibson is located in the southwestern part of the state and has a population of about 35,000.

Indiana’s coal-fired power plants export about 24 percent of the electricity they generate. Environmentalists have raised concerns about the serious health concerns associated with coal combustion, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, stroke and sudden infant dath syndrome. According to the report, Indiana has the third highest emissions of sulfur dioxide, which has been strongly associated with human deaths.