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Regulation "Standards for the beneficial use of coal combustion waste"

Neysha Martínez-Orengo's picture

This regulation is presented in order to establish standards for the management and beneficial use of coal waste and its derivatives; and in accordance with Act 40 “Ban on the Deposit and Disposal of Coal Ash or Coal Combustion Residuals in Puerto Rico Act” approved on July 4, 2017 and Act 416 of September 22, 2004 known as “Environmental Public Policy Act".

Planta de AES en Guayama, Puerto Rico. Foto por Centro de Periodismo Investigativo

Legislative Body: 

Puerto Rico Senate

Relevance to PR: 

Academics, scientists, health professionals, lawyers and ecologists have joined their voices to refute the regulation presented by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER). This position is supported on the basis of chemical tests that demonstrate the presence of toxic metals in the coal ashes generated by the company Applied Energy Systems (AES). The concern increases because this could have implications in the high incidence of cancer cases and respiratory problems in Puerto Rico. This regulation lacks recent studies that demonstrate the toxicity of coal combustion residual. Furthermore, it will allow the use of this waste throughout Puerto Rico. Citizens and experts highlight the incongruence that exists between the Act 40 and what is proposed in the regulation as it could serve as an alternative pass for the AES to maintain the deposit and use of coal ashes.

Current Status: 

At the moment the regulation is kept as a draft submitted by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.

Suggested action: 

Citizens and experts on related topics; especially those in the areas of chemistry, energy and public health, are suggested to document the evidence collected (e.g. from laboratory tests, censuses, statistics), in addition to those already presented by the Environmental Protection Agency, which can support the threat of the deposit, use and recycling of coal ash. Similarly, it is suggested to provide renewable energy proposals to replace the current coal burning. In addition, contact your legislators and ask them to consider measures such as the P. of the S. 600 and P. of the S. 601.