Coal ash, which contains many of the world's worst carcinogens, is what's left over when coal is burnt for electricity. An estimated 113 million tons of coal ash are produced annually in the US, and stored in almost every state — some of it literally in people's backyards. With very little government oversight and few safeguards in place, toxic chemicals have been known to leak from these storage sites and into nearby communities, contaminating drinking water and making residents sick.
VICE News travels across the US to meet the people and visit the areas most affected by this toxic waste stream. Since coal production is predicted to remain steady for the next few decades, coal ash will be a problem that will affect the US for years to come.
In this excerpt, VICE News correspondent Neha Shastry visits Little Blue Run, the largest coal ash impoundment in the US, and speaks to a resident about the environmental effects of this big blue toxic lake.