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Environment & Climate Change

New laws allow for coal ash in cement and asphalt

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito

This week Gov. Rick Snyder signed laws that allow for more uses of industrial byproducts.


The idea is to send less material to landfills and instead recycle them into as many practical uses as possible. 

These are materials like coal ash, paper-mill sludge and foundry sand. In the past they were dumped in landfills. 

But the state has been researching ways to recycle them – such as mixing them into cement used in roads and parking lots. The law also allows for some of these materials to be used on farmland as soil conditioners. 

James Clift is the policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council. He says that contaminated runoff from the roads and lots could make its way into our drinking water.

"Unfortunately under this statute, we see many uses where the only benefit is to the business that is saving on the landfill cost," says Clift. "The risk is being borne by the residents of the state of Michigan."

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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