/Mississippi coal power plant one of the nation’s top groundwater polluters, report finds

Mississippi coal power plant one of the nation’s top groundwater polluters, report finds

The Environmental Integrity Project, a non-profit watchdog, published the study. It found that 91% of all coal-powered plants that provided data were contaminating groundwater at unsafe levels with toxic pollutants. Groundwater contamination was ninth highest in the country at Purvis (also known as Plant Morrow). The findings showed that the safe level of lithium, which can cause neurological damage, was three times higher than the recommended limit. The Lamar County facility contains a 72-acre landfill and two smaller landfills that have not been lined. This means they do not provide a barrier between groundwater and dumped ash. Cooperative Energy, the operator of Plant Morrow, announced last year a five-year plan for converting the site into a natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant. This is a common pivot for utilities companies. It is expected that the new unit will be operational by 2023. Christa Bishop, executive vice president of the company, stated that electric cooperatives are committed towards the health and well being of their local communities and are also committed to the ongoing protection of our ground water resources and the environment. “Cooperative Energy is in full compliance with all state and federal environmental laws and regulations. This includes the Environmental Protection Agency’s Coal Combustion Residual Rule. “As an electric utility we don’t have a position regarding reports made by advocacy groups. Cooperative Energy’s main focus is on maintaining compliance with all environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Coal Ash Rule required that power companies start reporting pollutant data by March 2018. The report looked at groundwater data near 265 plants. This is about three quarters the number of coal-fired power plants in the United States. Our report, based on industry data, shows that groundwater is being poisoned by coal plants almost everywhere they operate. Trump’s Administration wants to harm communities by removing federal protections. They are making a terrible situation worse.” Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the EPA, updated the 2015 Coal Ash Rule requirements to give more flexibility to industry and state officials. Utility companies now have an additional 18 month to use unlined coal-ash ponds or groundwater-adjacent sites as dumping sites. Companies can also get a 10-year waiver for monitoring if they find no pollution. Scott Pruitt was confirmed as EPA chief by Wheeler on Thursday. Wheeler previously worked as a lobbyist at Murray Energy, a coal-company. Monday’s report found groundwater pollution by two other Mississippi plants. Plant Daniel in Moss Point had groundwater that contained five times the safe level of lithium. The Red Hills Power Plant, in Ackerman, also had high levels of cobalt and lithium. The Coal Ash Rule doesn’t require monitoring of hundreds of inactive Ash dumps. Landfills and impoundments that have stopped receiving waste after October 2015 are exempted from monitoring. Utility companies are not required to disclose the location of these dumps or acknowledge their existence. Researchers aren’t able to determine how pollutants from these dumps affect groundwater data and how many dumps exist because they aren’t monitored. The majority of plants in the study had at least one unregulated dump. Jennifer Peters, National Water Programs Director, Clean Water Action, stated that the findings are troubling, but not surprising. “Coal utilities have been dumping toxic waste in primitive pits for decades. These pits are often unlined, unstable and close to groundwater. Federal and state regulators have mostly ignored this. These coal ash ponds were dangerous and should have been shut down and cleaned up many years ago.” This report also includes testimony from people who discovered contamination in their drinking water in Tennessee and North Carolina. Groundwater is a source of water for approximately 115 million Americans. Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Cooperative Energy since it was originally published._x000D