Coal ash rules take effect today, nearly 7 years after TVA spill at Kingston

FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2008 file photo, an aerial view shows homes that were destroyed when a retention pond wall collapsed at the Tennessee Valley Authorities Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tenn. No one was physically hurt in the Dec. 22, 2008, spill of coal ash from a Tennessee Valley Authority plant storage pond into the Emory River and across some 300 acres in the picturesque Swan Pond community about 35 miles west of Knoxville. But property owners in the area say they have been hurt financially. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

WASHINGTON - The gooey, grayish-black sludge that spread across Roane County on a bitterly cold December morning is gone, but the fallout from the nation's worst coal-ash spill enters a new phase on Monday when the federal government begins regulating the storage and disposal of ash from coal-fired power plants.

Effective immediately, utilities will be required to put in place a plan to control "fugitive" dust, or ash that blows away while it's being transported or stored and could end up in streams. Within 30 days, those dust-control plans must be posted online so they are available for review by the public.

Utilities must immediately begin inspections of coal-ash storage ponds and landfills and post the results of those inspections online as well. Storage sites under construction will have to meet new design standards that require safeguards such as liners and restrict how close they can be to groundwater tables, seismic zones, flood plains and unstable areas such as sinkholes.