Sixteen coal ash pits contaminating Texas groundwater: report
Haul trucks move coal as seen during a tour of Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle coal mine near Gillette, Wyoming, U.S. June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Kristina Barker

Sixteen coal ash pits in Texas are leaking contaminants including arsenic, boron, cobalt and lithium into groundwater, according to a report released on Thursday by the Environmental Integrity Project.

Coal ash is the residue left after coal has been burned to generate power, and can include sludge from plant exhaust stacks. Coal ash is placed in pits or ponds next to coal power plants.

The report from the national environmental group also said a federal rule governing coal pits would not prevent groundwater contamination.

“A history of weak regulatory oversight has led to this problem, and only a stronger regulatory framework can fix it,” the report said. “Unfortunately, neither the federal Coal Ash Rule nor Texas’s proposed coal ash program rise to that challenge.”

A 2016 federal law allows states to develop coal ash regulations of their own.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a draft coal ash program in August.

The EIP was one of three environmental organizations that asked a federal court in September to invalidate a coal ash program adopted by the state of Oklahoma.

Three of the power plants covered by the EIP’s report were shuttered in 2018.

Texas receives 24 percent of its electrical power from coal.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Peter Cooney