May 13, 2019
The worst polluters in the U.S. are coal-fired utility plants, according to a recent environmental study. Coal ash is a waste product from burning coal at power plants. Power plants push it into dumps. Then poisonous metals, such as arsenic, lead and mercury, leak from the dumps into nearby rivers, streams, lakes and wells.
These poisons enter the waterways at levels far above what the Clean Water Act of 1973 allows. The population also breathes poisonous air coming out of coal-fired utility chimneystacks, far beyond what the Clean Air Act of 1963 allows.
One example in the environmental report concerned a coal-fired power plant in Prince George’s County, Maryland. It showed nearby groundwater contamination 100 times higher than the amount considered safe for molybdenum. At such high levels, this metal can damage kidneys and liver. The State of Maryland actually sued the plant’s owners six years ago, collecting a two million dollar fine. Yet this coal ash dump remains one of the worst sites for pollution in the country.
Utilities, like other industries, ignore government agencies and regulations as much as they can. Clean water and air are essential to life on this planet. Do we continue to let industry pollute while we re-elect their mouthpiece politicians? Or do we organize to take control of these vital decisions out of their hands?