Protecting Our Community from the Danger of Coal Ash

Brief camping trips aside, most of us cannot imagine living without electricity. Yet, while there have been great improvements, there are still dangers associated with energy generation. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal has been the leading source for energy nationwide, but its role is declining. Coal accounted for 50% of energy produced in the U.S. in 2000, a number that fell to around 39% by 2013. There have been improvements in both the environmental and health impact of coal use, but our Panama City toxic tort lawyer knows that a real threat remains, and he is dedicated to helping people in Northwest Florida who are sickened by coal ash or otherwise made ill by exposure to coal.

Environmental Groups File Suit Over Coal Ash

WJHG reports that three Florida environmental groups filed suit last week in a Tallahassee-based federal court, suing Gulf Power on claims tied to the Sneads-based Scholtz Plant. They allege the coal-burning plant is polluting the Apalachicola River. More specifically, an Earthjustice representative suggests the coal ash impoundment is not properly maintained and is leaking contaminants that include arsenic and lead into the river. The groups call it a public health hazard, expressing worry that seepage from the coal ash pits will continue and that toxins will spread long after the plant closes next year.

Gulf Power, on the other hand, says water tests performed by the government meet regulatory standards. The plaintiff groups want the judge to revoke the company's permit to discharge materials into the Apalachicola and require that Gulf Power bury coal ash in a landfill rather than leave it in the unlined pits that sit on a bluff overlooking the river.

The Danger of Coal Ash

In a set of frequently asked questions tied to proposals to regulate storage of the substance, the Environmental Protection Agency explains that coal combustion residuals (aka "CCRS" or "coal ash") are the byproducts left behind when coal is burned at power plants. Coal ash contains a range of risky contaminants – including mercury, arsenic, and cadmium – that can contribute to cancer or other health problems. The Agency suggests that proper protections are needed to prevent contaminants from leaching into groundwater and eventually finding its way into drinking water," posing public significant health concerns."

"Beyond Coal" is a Sierra Club-initiative aimed at replacing coal with cleaner energy forms. Focusing on the hazards of coal ash, the group notes that the coal byproduct contains toxins that, particularly with prolonged exposure, have been linked to organ damage, respiratory problems, developmental disorders, neurological problems, and cancers. They reference an EPA risk assessment and state that living in the proximity of a wet coal ash pond poses significantly more danger than a pack-a-day smoking habit. Ultimately, the Sierra Club concludes "coal ash toxics have the potential to injure all of the major organ systems in adults (including pregnant women) and children alike."

Advocating for Those Harmed by Coal Ash and Other Toxins

All too often, energy producers take far too few precautions when storing potentially toxic byproducts of energy production. This puts the public's health at risk, contaminating both the water and the air. If you and/or your family has fallen ill because of coal ash or another energy-byproduct, call our Northwest Florida toxic exposure law firm. We will fight for you, partnering with top experts in science and medicine, holding the responsible companies accountable and helping you recover the money damages that are critically important when you are facing such serious health threats.

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