The environmentally detrimental effects of coal ash are not new; however, recent studies are shedding further light on the impact of unlined coal ash ponds to the environment. You should make sure that your consultant is doing their historical due diligence and checking that these types of facilities aren’t near your property. Nova’s ESA Group National Practice Leader reviews a recent article on the subject.
Studies by Duke University at 21 power plants in five southeastern US states have shown toxic heavy metals and selenium in surface waters or groundwater at all of the locations tested. The concern lies not only with active coal plants, but also out-of-service plants, as the impacts have been shown to be persistent in the environment at defunct plants. Shallow groundwater wells near a retired ash-disposal site exhibited elevated concentrations of dissolved metals and metalloids. Future planned studies include sampling of deep groundwater wells to further evaluate the impacts surrounding these facilities.