December 11, 2008

Fly ash regulations not strict enough

I concur with The Baltimore Sun's editorial that said the Maryland Department of the Environment's new rules for disposing of coal fly ash are "not a full solution to the problem" ("Controlling coal ash," Dec. 5).

The rules just do not adequately address the severity of the problem.

In 2007, Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold secured County Council approval of a ban on the disposal of fly ash at any site in the county. Mr. Leopold took this action on this issue in response to a county groundwater investigation in Gambrills that concluded that combustion ash used as fill for mine reclamation presented potential health risks.

At the time, he urged the Maryland Department of the Environment to adopt new regulations against fly ash use. Unfortunately, MDE's new requirements for the disposal of coal combustion byproducts, including fly ash, fail to adequately protect Marylanders against these harmful substances.

MDE's new mandates of the use of landfill liners, leachate collection systems and monitoring devices are not fail-safe measures.

Loopholes in the regulations must be closed so that fly ash won't be used in a manner placing health at risk.

The regulations have other deficiencies. For instance, they fail to adequately address exposure to fugitive dust coming from fly ash sites, and they lack a standard for off-site air quality monitoring or requirements for monitoring stations at the property boundary.

The county legislation that prohibits the depositing of fly ash, which sunsets in October 2009, is the only measure that fully protects against coal combustion byproducts in Anne Arundel County. State and federal regulators should adopt an equally effective approach.

Douglas Hart, Annapolis

The writer is acting health officer for Anne Arundel County.

Don't blame Israel for Gaza's woes

I take exception to the caption to a photo in the "24 hours in Pictures" feature in Sunday's paper of a Palestinian woman examining wedding gowns.

The caption seems to blame the Israelis unfairly for a fuel shortage in Gaza that, in truth, is a direct result of the continuation of rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel.

Susan Vick, Baltimore

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