A Cautionary Tale of a Curse, Coal and Contamination

When 12-year-old Todd Domboski felt the ground give way beneath his feet in the Pennsylvanian coal-mining town of Centralia on Valentine’s Day in 1981, he had no idea of what was to unfold.

Since 1962, when a burn-off of landfill ignited the main coal seam beneath the town, numerous attempts at extinguishing the underground fire failed, raising questions whether authorities tried hard enough. A conspiracy theory buzzed that the Government was buying out businesses and homes through eminent domain because once gone, billions upon billions of dollars of coal reserves would revert to the state.

But less obvious at the time was that the Coal Ash used to suffocate the fire contained a witch’s brew of carcinogenic toxins. Each year, coal-fired power plants in the United States produce 140 million tons of hazardous Coal Ash, much of which is stored in over 1,100 sites throughout 45 states and is poisoning water resources.

RED ASH: Burning Rights explores the vested interests of government, business, citizens, environment and public safety set against America’s hidden Coal Ash crisis.



“The temperatures in the boreholes were
anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 degrees
Fahrenheit. Those temperatures are akin to
the temperature at the surface of Mercury.”


Jennifer Mary Elick, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of
Earth & Environmental Science at
Susquehanna University, PA
"We don’t need to worry about other countries
having chemicals of mass destruction. We have
them right here in the U.S. and our government
allows big corporations to poison our air, our
soil and our drinking water daily. Is this the
American dream or the American nightmare?"


Lys Sparrow, Filmmaker