A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council says that the “perfect storm” for air pollution caused by fracking and coal ash disposal ponds is now underway.
The group, which works to address water pollution, says the recent coal ash spill from a wastewater treatment plant in West Virginia is a major environmental problem.
The report comes on the heels of a lawsuit by the West Virginia state government to shut down the facility.
A coal ash dump at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which is the site of the Hanwell nuclear power plant, has also come under scrutiny.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that more than half of the state’s coal ash pollution is from wastewater facilities.
The state of New York is the first state in the nation to ban the disposal of wastewater in ponds.
But the report said it was not clear how many residents are living in the affected areas.
“We found that in many communities, the impacts of these pollutants were widespread and substantial,” said Dan Wiedermann, the NRDC’s director of water resources and pollution prevention.
“Many of these communities are struggling with significant water pollution issues.”
The NRDC report found that a total of 9.6 million people in West Virgina have been affected by water pollution since the 1970s.
It said the coal ash at Hanford is a significant problem because it releases heavy metals into groundwater.
“Hanford, in turn, released heavy metals to the surrounding waterways,” Wiedermans report said.
“These heavy metals can cause significant health impacts for people living near the coal pits, which are located within a natural watershed.”
In other parts of the country, water pollution is also a major issue.
Wiedemans report also found that coal ash from the Marcellus Shale, the vast coal mine and production region in Pennsylvania, releases heavy metal emissions.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said that in 2015, it conducted an analysis of emissions from the mines and the coal tailings ponds.
It found that the Marlboro Shale produces more than 2 million tons of heavy metals per year and about 100,000 tons of coal ash annually.
The pollution can have serious health effects, including respiratory and developmental problems.
The NRCC report said that the problem of coal-fired power plants is only beginning to be addressed.