Toxic Coal Ash Being Dumped in Puerto Rico, Which Already Suffers Worst Drinking Water in the Nation

Even before Hurricane Maria struck the island nearly six months ago, the majority of Puerto Rico’s residents lived with water that violated health standards set by the U.S. law.
For more, we’re also joined in Washington, D.C., by Mekela Panditharatne, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, who just got back from Puerto Rico, her recent piece in The New York Times headlined “Puerto Rico Needs More Than Bandages,” also wrote The Washington Post op-ed ”FEMA says most of Puerto Rico has potable water.
Now, AES has been producing coal ash, and that has been deposited in landfills scattered across Puerto Rico, including in a community called Peñuelas, which has been really a locus in these environmental justice fights.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, how did the storm affect the coal ash contamination?
MEKELA PANDITHARATNE: The plant is still running.
AMY GOODMAN: As you mentioned, in Puerto Rico’s southern town of Peñuelas, residents have been fighting for years to stop this private company, Applied Energy Systems, or AES, from dumping the coal ash in a landfill next to their community.
AMY GOODMAN: Mekela, what are people demanding now in Puerto Rico, as we wrap up?
So, what we’d really want to see is significant investment into drinking water infrastructure and also into securing these coal ash contamination sites and preventing further leaching of these contaminants into people’s water sources.
BEN EATON: We are demanding the—we are demanding the landfill to put in more and better preventions of this coal ash being dumped on us, better protection to keep it from leaking or seeping into our waterway or into the soil to kill off all the crops in that area.
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