When the wind blows, a cloud of coal ash rises over the nearby homes of Paiute Indians and blankets them with a fallout of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxic elements. Like millions of people across the nation, they are experiencing America's dirtiest energy source. Read Full Story.
Interactive Video Feature
"Sometimes when I sweat my skin burns."
–Calvin Meyers, Paiute Indian tribal elder.
Coal-fired power plants generate millions of tons of toxic coal ash every year.
Coal ash contains unsafe levels of mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium, and other toxic metals known to cause cancer and damage organs.
Coal ash sites in New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana and other states have poisoned drinking waters, elevated cancer risks and polluted rivers and streams.
From Earth Justice's interactive map:
In 2009, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Earthjustice and our partners, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed the location of 584 coal ash dump sites across the country—almost twice as many as previously identified.
These sites pose significant cancer and health risks that so far have gone unchecked. I clicked on WI and found the following info:
Number of Coal Ash Ponds: 18 ponds at 5 plants
Coal Ash Generated Per Year: 1.4 million tons
National Ranking in Coal Ash Generation: 28th
I downloaded the fact sheet and learned the place for each site including that one was located in my county. Here: http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/library/references/wi-coal-ash-factsheet.pdf
FIND THE FACTS FOR YOUR STATE HERE ON THE MAP Use the map to view fact sheets analyzing the coal ash sites by state.
THESE ARE SOME OF THE FACTS I LEARNED ABOUT COAL ASH IN WI. from the
downloaded fact sheet:
Wisconsin ranks 28th in the nation for coal ash generation.
The U.S. EPA has not yet gathered extensive information on coal ash disposal in landfills, so a
detailed breakdown is not available. However, according to a 2010 EPA risk assessment, four
coal ash ponds and landfills in Wisconsin are currently unlined and three are only clay-lined.
Of these sites four have no leachate collection systems.
Aging Fleet of Ponds: None of Wisconsin’s coal ash ponds are less than 24 years old, and 15
ponds are over 30 years old. One pond at the Nelson Dewey Generating Station is over 50 years
old. The age of these ponds makes it unlikely that they have safeguards like liners and leachate
Cases of coal ash contamination in Wisconsin (Damage cases):
According to EPA , WI has the distinction of having the most documented sites contaminated by coal ash in the U.S.
According to EPA, the following sites have been contaminated by ash:
Dairyland Power Co-op, E.J. Stoneman Generating Station Ash Disposal Pond.
Contamination of groundwater by an unlined ash pond with cadmium, chromium, sulfate,
manganese, iron and zinc.
WEPCO Highway 59 Landfill. Coal ash in an unlined sand and gravel pit contaminated groundwater and private wells with sulfate, boron, manganese, chloride, and iron.
Alliant Nelson Dewey Ash Disposal Facility. Unlined ponds contaminated groundwater with arsenic, selenium, sulfate, boron, and fluoride.
WEPCO Cedar-Sauk Landfill. Unlined sand and gravel pit contaminated groundwater with selenium, boron, and sulfate.
Wisconsin Electric Power Co. Port Washington Facility. Disposal in a unlined quarry contaminated groundwater with selenium in in close proximity to drinking water wells.”
Alliant Rock River Ash Disposal Facility, Beloit: Arsenic, mercury, sulfate and iron found in groundwater.
Alliant Edgewater 1-4 Ash Disposal Site: Arsenic, boron, sulfate and iron found in groundwater near landfill.
Wisconsin Power Supply Co. Pulliam Ash Disposal Site: Sulfate, manganese and iron found in groundwater onsite.
Dairyland Power Alma On-site Fly Ash Landfill: Sulfate and manganese found on-site.
Dairyland Power Alma Off-site Fly Ash Landfill: Sulfate and manganese found on-site.
Lemberger Landfill, Manitowoc County: National Priorities List Superfund Site.
In addition, Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project and Sierra Club, documented two additional sites contaminated by coal ash:
Columbia Energy Center, WI Power and Light Co, Pardeeville:
Ecological studies in the late 1970s identified devastating impacts on aquatic life in a stream receiving discharge from ash ponds wiping out nearly all aquatic insects for 2.2 miles downstream;
and Oak Creek Power Plant, WE Energies, Oak Creek:
Twelve private drinking wells near the Oak Creek and Caledonia coal ash landfills have been contaminated with molybdenum. WE Energies started providing bottled water to residents in 2009.
Wisconsin State Regulatory Program and Recycling of Coal Ash:
WI’s program requires groundwater monitoring at many of its disposal sites. WI also requires all landfills be constructed with composite liners. Because of the greater relative stringency of disposal regulations, in comparison to other states, WI utilities have greater incentive to recycle their coal ash.
In fact, higher disposal costs in WI have led to a state recycling rate of at least 85%, more than double the average ash recycling rate in all other states (36%).
River Runs Black: The Devastating Coal Ash Spill on the Emory River
Massive piles of the toxic sludge had replaced the once-clear and scenic water of the tranquil cover, destroyed Daugherty's beautiful landscape and inundated everything around her home.
"I went on to work and called my husband. He came home and called me and said, 'You're not going to believe this. It's astronomical'."
Like the Daughertys, residents all along the river were waking up to the tragedy of 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash that spilled from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant. The spill covered 300 acres, destroyed homes, poisoned rivers and contaminated coves and residential drinking waters.