Earth Focus

America's Dirty Secret: Coal Ash

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In Juliette, Ga., radioactive water flows from the tap. In Pennsylvania, three adjoining counties battle a rare form of cancer. "Earth Focus" investigates the one thing these communities have in common: their exposure to coal ash. Coal combustion powers 40 percent of America's electricity and generates 130 million tons of coal ash each year.

Although it's known to contain carcinogens, coal ash is often dumped in unlined ponds where it leaches into groundwater. There's no federal coal ash regulation on the books -- only a patchwork of state-level standards. People who live near the coal ash dumps in Georgia and Pennsylvania say they are shrugged off as collateral damage by corporate interests and slow-moving government agencies.