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Scrapbook: Families, Kids Rally for Strong Coal Ash Protections

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Sierra Club Scrapbook

November 22, 2010

Families, Kids Rally for Strong Coal Ash Protections


On November 17, Sierra Club families rallied in front of the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C., urging the agency to adopt tough protections against toxic coal ash.
Volunteers at the Rally for Children's Health were joined by organizers from the Sierra Club and other groups in calling attention to the Nov. 19 public comment deadline on the EPA's proposed safeguards. That's Virginia Sierra Club organizer Phil Ellis at left below with his kids.


Carrying signs reading Protect our Families and Clean Up Your Mess, ralliers circled a children's sandbox planted with a "Coal Ash is not Dirt" sign and chanted, "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Weak rules on coal ash have to go!" Below, Maryland Chapter Director Laurel Imlay with her son.


Sierra Club organizer Kate Pollard led activists in a rendition of Ring Around the Rosie to playfully but firmly underscore the fact that coal ash is known to contain toxics that cause cancer and other serious illnesses. A report in Scientific American found coal ash to be more radioactive than nuclear waste.


"As the mother of two young children, I'm calling on the EPA to regulate coal ash as toxic waste," said Mary Kadera, chair of the Club's Mount Vernon Group in northern Virginia. "Far too many children are being exposed to this dangerous substance, with devastating consequences to their health, education, and well-being."


Coal ash is the toxic byproduct of burning coal for electricity. It contains arsenic, lead, chromium, and selenium, among other harmful chemicals that are particularly harmful to children. The EPA has found that more than 1.5 million children live in close proximity to coal sites, yet coal ash waste has gone largely unregulated.

The lack of enforceable safeguards tragically led to a December 2008 spill of more than 5 million cubic yards of coal ash near Knoxville, Tennessee, that destroyed 300 acres and dozens of homes, killed fish and other wildlife, and poisoned the Emory and Clinch Rivers.

Photo by Lyndsay Moseley

"The risks are clear and very real," said Tennessee native Lyndsay Moseley, who heads up the Sierra Club's work on coal ash. "Without enforceable federal protections the families near these sites will remain in danger."

Photo by Lyndsay Moseley

The Sierra Club has been a leader in promoting national awareness of coal ash by helping submit more than 118,000 comments to the EPA encouraging strong, enforceable safeguards, and turning out at least 2,000 people, many of them directly affected by coal ash, to the eight public hearings on the agency's proposed protections.

Watch this video of the Nov. 17 coal ash rally by Club staffer Heather Moyer. Moyer gives golleague Virginia Cramer a shout-out for her role in organizing the rally.


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