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Yet Another Way in Which Dirty, Toxic Coal Threatens People's Health

2 min. read

We already know that mountaintop removal coal mining poses a serious threat to human health, with "people living near the destruction are 50% more likely to die of cancer and 42% more likely to be born with birth defects compared with other people in Appalachia." As if that's not bad enough, coal-fired power plants "release at least 5.5 billion pounds of pollution into the nation’s waterways every year, " with most "power plant water pollution permits (188 out of 274) hav[ing] no limits on how much
arsenic, boron, cadmium, lead, mercury, and selenium that these plants can discharge." Then there's the nasty air pollution from coal fired power plants leads to " premature death, heart attacks, lung damage, and a variety of other significant health problems" and "$100 billion in annual health costs." Plus, of course, coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, which means that coal-fired power plants are a major contributor to global warming.

All of that should be enough to prompt a rapid transition from coal-fired power plants to clean, renewable energy. But just in case you need another reason, how about coal ash ponds?

In March, April and May, the Waterkeeper Alliance took samples from 15 wells in Dukeville and from seepage on the Thomas family's land. According to lab reports provided to the AP:

— Water from the Thomases' kitchen faucet contained chromium at nearly four times the state limit for groundwater and exceeded the state limit for arsenic.

— Samples taken from the wellhead at the Thomas farm and 14 other wells contained some hexavalent chromium, though at amounts considered acceptable by state regulators. Some wells also exceeded state groundwater standards for total chromium, lead, iron and manganese.

— A sample taken from water seeping up in the Thomases' cow pasture contained chromium at nearly 10 times the state groundwater standard, lead at more than six times the standard, manganese at 562 times the standard, iron at 1,086 times the standard and boron at 1.5 times the standard.

Avner Vengosh, a professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University, said the readings from the cow pasture leave little doubt that coal ash pollution had spread.

Again, can we please get off of this filthy stuff and onto clean, renewable energy ASAP?

Topics: Clean Economy