Advocates Speak Out Against Coal Ash

BY ON April 15, 2013

Smokestack spewing pollution into the air.

This article is from Clean Energy Now:

Environmental groups and concerned citizens are speaking out about a coal-fired power plant in Trenton that spread coal ash residue across the town on Wednesday morning. The ash, released by DTE’s Trenton Channel coal plant, which has repeatedly exceeded its stack emission limits, is loaded with carcinogens like arsenic and hexavalent chromium, and other harmful pollutants lead and mercury, a powerful neurotoxin. Clean energy advocates are calling for an investigation to gauge the impact of this release in Trenton, and are rallying for public awareness.

“Its alarming Michigan residents are waking up to a film of coal ash covering their cars, lawns and homes,” said Susan Harley of Clean Water Action. “Even more alarming is the fact that there is a potential impact on Michigan resident’s health from all of the power plants and ash storage sites across the state. Burning coal creates a byproduct that is dangerous to public health, and contains cancer-causing heavy metals and other contaminants. If we replace aging coal plants with clean energy sources, then we protect our health, the environment, and economy.”

The blanketing of the Trenton community with fly ash from the DTE’s Trenton Channel coal-fired power plant comes less than a month after the utility company was sued in U.S. District Court in Detroit for more than 1,400 Clean Air Act violations from emissions at four of its southeast Michigan coal plants, including the Trenton Channel plant. Violations of the Clean Air Act at DTE’s plants were identified from emissions data submitted by DTE to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which showed that each of the stacks at the Trenton Channel plant logged twice as many minutes of excessive emissions than any of the stacks at DTE’s other local coal plants, largely due to outdated equipment.

“For Trenton residents who deal with DTE’s dependence on coal every day, the evidence is clear that the utility’s outdated coal plant is hurting their health,” said Tiffany Hartung, Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign representative in Michigan. “Pollution from the Trenton Channel coal plant is linked to asthma attacks, heart disease and cancer. Contamination from coal ash dumped by DTE affects our water supply. Investing in clean energy and moving away from outdated coal plants will mean that Trenton residents can leave events like yesterday’s coal ash debacle in the past.”

Coal ash is the waste that is left after coal is burned, and contains dangerous toxics like mercury, arsenic, lead and more. Coal ash can cause cancer, neurological damage, and birth defects, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates people who drink water polluted by leaking coal ash sites could have as high as 1 in 50 chance of getting cancer from arsenic-contaminated water.

Right now there are fewer federal rules for the storage of coal ash than there are for the disposal of household trash. Almost three years after proposing safeguards, the EPA has yet to finalize policies that would ensure protections from dangerous coal ash waste. Without these strong protections on the federal level, Michigan residents, as well as families across the nation, will be exposed to dangerous levels of coal ash pollution.

In order to address dangerous pollution, like coal ash, from DTE’s coal plants, environmental and public health advocates are urging Detroit Edison to put in place a sustainable energy transition plan that replaces old-fashioned, dirty coal plants with clean energy and energy efficiency.


TOPICS: Asthma, Cancer, Clean Air Rules and Regulations, Coal, Mercury Poisoning, Michigan, Pollution, Toxics