Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) is planning to close its unlined coal ash ponds at the Eagle Valley power plant north of Martinsville by leaving the coal ash in place, in the floodplain of the White River, and building caps over it. The Eagle Valley coal ash is contaminating the groundwater with arsenic, boron, lithium and molybdenum. The caps will not stop the groundwater contamination, and since they are mostly made of soil, the caps will be subject to erosion during flood events, potentially leading to a spill. Two prior spills at the site dumped 60 million gallons of coal ash sludge into the White River, in 2007 and 2008. The coal ash in the White River was never cleaned up.
Coal ash is a ‘forever pollutant’ that doesn’t break down over time, so it needs a permanent solution. Permanent solutions that protect water resources are happening in other states where coal ash is being recycled into cement, which locks away the contaminants or placed in properly lined landfills on high ground out of the floodplain. If it’s happening in other states, it should also happen here.