At least 49 [coal-fired] power plants have acknowledged groundwater contamination at levels that exceed federal or state standards, according to data submitted to the USEPA Office of Water and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request...
These pollutants include:
- Arsenic (a potent carcinogen) at no fewer than 22 plants;
- Manganese (a metal that can damage the nervous system in high concentrations) at 22;
- Boron (a pollutant that can cause damage to the stomach, intestines, liver, kidney, and brain when ingested in large amounts) at 12;
- Selenium (a toxic pollutant that causes adverse health effects at high exposures) at 13; and
- Cadmium (a toxic pollutant that can damage the kidneys, lungs, and bones) at 10.
Those, of course, are in addition to the many other pollutants - carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates, lead - of the air and water put out by coal-fired power plants, not to mention the process of mining the coal in the first place. In sum, there's absolutely nothing "clean" about coal, despite the industry's fallacious claim that such a thing as "clean coal" exists. To the contrary, coal plants pollute and we need to do something to clean them up ASAP.