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KY Sierra Club Takes Aim at Limiting Mercury Pollution

April 28, 2009

Maysville, KY - The mercury is rising in northeast Kentucky, and the Sierra Club says it has nothing to do with warmer spring temperatures.

The group's Cumberland Chapter is filing a lawsuit with the goal of limiting Kentuckians' mercury exposure from the East Kentucky Power Cooperative's (EKPC) coal-fired plant near Maysville. Sierra Club spokesman Wallace McMullen claims a new boiler was built without having undergone key pollution control reviews.

"And this has been done without determining whether the unit will reduce mercury and other hazardous air pollutants by the maximum achievable amounts."

The group wants EKPC to use the best available technology to keep mercury pollution out of the air and water, says McMullen. According to an EKPC spokesman, the company obtained all applicable permits and intends to fight the lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court in Lexington.

McMullen adds mercury-contaminated fish have already been found in all of Kentucky's waterways, and scientific research connects much of that pollution to the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants.

"Once you get mercury out of the smokestacks, like from this power plant, it ends up in our waterways and fish, and eventually, in our bodies."

Mercury can cause brain damage and development problems in young children. It also has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease in men.

Bill Goodman/Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY