Report says WV's mercury pollution among worst in nation
January 27, 2011 ·
Wednesday, representatives from local and national environmental groups gathered at the Capitol to release a report on mercury pollution in individual states.
When rain and snow falls to earth, they often contain mercury pollution from
power plants. The pollution makes its way into streams and rivers, travels up
the food chain and contaminates fish and wildlife. A report released today by a
national environmental group says West Virginia’s
power plants emit more mercury than plants in 46 other states.
held a press conference at the Capitol to release the report. Global Warming
associate Lauren Randall says West Virginia
has to address the problem.
“Our message today is clear: powering our homes should not
poison West Virginia’s kids,” she
said. “Mercury pollution from power plants puts our kids and our environment at
risk, and we need the Environmental Protection Agency to force these facilities
to clean up.”
The only states that emit more mercury than West
Virginia are Texas,
Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The John Amos plant in Putnam County
emitted more than 1100 pounds of mercury all by itself in 2009.
Sen. Dan Foster (D-Kanawha), who is a physician, says he
knows coal’s importance to West Virginia’s
economy. But he also knows how damaging mercury pollution can be, especially to
children and unborn babies.
“It is my hope that these economic and health needs can be balanced by
increasing the use of already-available technologies in these plants to reduce
these risks,” Foster said. “It is critical to our future that we succeed.”
Jim Sconyers of the Sierra Club’s West Virginia chapter says there is existing technology
that power plants could utilize to cut down on their mercury emissions. But he
doubts they would implement it on their own.
“Are the power companies going to stop emitting mercury
unless someone like the EPA says they have to?” he asked. “Well, probably not.
It might cost a little money. Typically they don’t do those kinds of things
until they’re required to. And it’s high time that they be required to do
The federal Environmental Protection Agency is considering
proposing a standard to limit mercury and other air pollution.