Environment
2:36 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Michigan may authorize new uses for toxic coal ash

Coal ash is the byproduct generated by coal-fired electric power plants. It's commonly mixed with concrete as a road construction filler, and it's also sometimes spread on farm fields. Some studied have linked coal ash exposure to lung cancer.
Coal ash is the byproduct generated by coal-fired electric power plants. It's commonly mixed with concrete as a road construction filler, and it's also sometimes spread on farm fields. Some studied have linked coal ash exposure to lung cancer.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / CheshireCat@TO

One of the bills that cleared the Michigan legislature this session was a provision that allows certain bio-waste materials to be re-used for beneficial purposes. These substances include things like cement kiln dust, wood pulp and coal ash. Coal ash is the leftover residue from coal burned by electric power plants.

The bill permits coal ash to be used in road construction, but it may also be used in agriculture as a fertilizer supplement, causing some environmental advocates to become concerned. 

Current State’s Kevin Lavery speaks with Republican State Representative Wayne Schmidt, the bill’s main sponsor, who strongly states that coal ash is completely safe and does not pose any environmental threats.

However, Tiffany Hartung, a member of the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club says that coal ash is a toxic byproduct and should be treated as hazardous waste.

Related Program