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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Report: Big Stone Coal Ash Polluting Water with Heavy Metals

A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project, in cooperation with Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, identifies the Big Stone power plant among 39 sites nationwide where coal ash is leaching arsenic and other heavy metals into drinking water and surface water. These 39 sites are in addition to 31 EIP identified in a February 2010 report and 67 identified by the EPA.

What does EIP's report say specifically about Otter Tail's Big Stone facility in northeast South Dakota?
  1. There is "Demonstrated damage to groundwater moving off-site (at northern and eastern property boundaries and south toward the Whetstone River)."
  2. "21 of 25 monitoring wells report exceedances of groundwater standards downgradient of CCW disposal units in two aquifers. Arsenic has been up to 13 times and lead up to 7 times the MCL, boron up to 34 times the Lifetime Health Advisory and sulfate up to 224 times the SMCL at 56,000 mg/L. Despite mounding of groundwater at the property lines, no monitoring of nearby ponds or private wells has occurred."
  3. There are 119 wells within 5 miles of the plant, as are the Whetstone River and Big Stone Lake. ["In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and Their Environment," Jeff Stant, project director & editor, Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, 2010.08.26]
South Dakota's Department of Environment and Natural Resources doesn't think the pollution comes from Big Stone's coal ash. According to EIP, DENR says the contamination comes from "water softener brine wastes." I wonder if that came up at all while the legislative interim committee took public comment Tuesday as part of its review of the DENR.

Now remember, Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin says we don't need EPA regulations on coal ash, since that might hurt business.

Let's hope that, as the EPA beings public hearings on its proposed coal ash rules next week, it ignores the profit-├╝ber-alles propaganda of Herseth Sandlin (oh, and Heartland Consumer Power District) and pays attention to the real contamination produced by Big Stone and other coal-burning power plants around the country.

1 comment:

  1. Coal is cheap ... except when you have to clean up the messes it creates, and then who pays the tab around the world?


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