Overview and Outcomes
AshTracker.org is a web based application that that helps the public obtain detailed information on groundwater contamination near areas used to dispose of ash, scrubber sludge or other wastes from coal burning power plants. Working with Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), our team structured and processed data from industry disclosed groundwater monitoring reports for over 500,000 groundwater monitoring readings for 112 facilities across the nation, making AshTracker the largest, centralized, authoritative source of coal ash exceedance data available online. Our application is responsible for monitoring federal safe drinking water standards across more than 3,100 wells all of which monitor any combination of thirty one chemical parameters with differing state and federal health guidelines. Of these wells 76 percent exceed at least one safe for human health.
Users can browse the data in Ashtracker by leveraging a suite of easy-to-use mapping and search tools that reveal the location and frequency of a facilities’ exceedance history. All data can be downloaded in a machine readable format by building custom queries or with a simple click at the facility level. Our team has also assembled a data subscription service that allows users to signup and receive automated quarterly updates that ship newly updated facility data right to the end user’s inbox.
AshTracker’s data management system goes beyond simply feeding a public web visualization. Instead we’ve designed and built the data management application in a way that enables EIP analysts to take raw groundwater readings from the state, upload them to the cloud, and have them instantly analyzed for heavy metal exceedances. This can be done for thousands of readings across hundreds of wells at a given facility saving EIP time and money by automating compliance sweep efforts.
By bringing these data online faster, agencies can take action and make informed decisions when spills, leaks, and failures occur. Further, media outlets can view comprehensive exceedance histories for a given coal ash site. With appropriately formatted data, EIP is leveraging the system to bring actionable facility information online in a matter of hours compared to weeks.