The recent toxic sludge that flooded through Hungary after an alumina waste reservoir wall collapsed is a tragic reminder of the dangerous byproducts left in the wake of mining and dirty energy. In the United States, there are around 600 surface facilities that are pumped full of toxic coal ash -- the remains left behind from coal-fired power plants.
In the 1970s, when Pennsylvania Power first proposed building their coal ash waste disposal facility "Little Blue Run" in Beaver County, the image they painted was much prettier than the one that remains to this day. According to longtime resident Marcy Hughes, "They said that they were going to have it where you could swim, you could picnic - they even showed a sailboat."
This video from CNN takes a look at toxic truth of the facility and the plight of those western Pennsylvania citizens, who decades down the line are dealing with an array of health issues, which they believe Little Blue Run is to blame for.
Hughes's daughter, Tracey Heinlein, has suffered three types of cancer since the age of 18. Now, with the proposal of the coal ash facility expanding, Heinlein can't think of any other option but to uproot her family and leave. She recounts to CNN how the first time she visited her cardiologist, he asked her and her mother after the exam, "Why do you still live there?"
According to CNN, the EPA is currently considering reclassifying coal ash as hazardous, rather than the regular garbage it's presently treated as. And although the EPA says coal ash contains toxins like arsenic, cadmium and lead, the owners of Little Blue Run continue to assert that their facility has nothing to do with the myriad of health effects local residents are blaming it for, and that it isn't contaminating groundwater.