INDIANAPOLIS -- Environmental groups are gearing up for their annual "Greening the Statehouse" event this weekend at the University of Indianapolis. During the sustainability event, people will be learning about the EPA's new rules on coal ash storage.
The ash is a byproduct of coal-burning power plants, and it contains heavy metals like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. It's often stored wet, in sludge ponds, and Indiana has more of them than any other state.
Lisa Evans, Sr. Administrative Counsel for Earth Justice, says groups like the Hoosier Environmental Council were instrumental in helping to establish the new rules, which went into effect last month. She'll give the keynote address at Saturday's gathering.
"Without the work of Indiana public interest groups we would not have a national coal ash rule," Evans said.
Coal ash pollution is the second-largest industrial waste stream in the U.S. and it directly affects water.
"It's the slow leaking of toxic chemicals into the ground which then flow into the ground and then can flow into drinking water, like they did in the town of Pines IN, or out to surface water and contaminate lakes and streams," Evans said.
The federal government declared the northern Indiana town of Pines as a Superfund site after contaminants from coal ash leached into its groundwater for decades.
The Greening the Statehouse event is being held Saturday at UIndy’s Schwitzer Center.