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Study: Chi Coal Plants Costing a Bundle in Healthcare

October 21, 2010

CHICAGO - A study released this week takes aim at two coal-fired electricity generation plants in Chicago as the source of dirty air that is resulting in millions being spent on health care and related damage. The Environmental Law and Policy Center says the price tag is about $127 million a year, and could be as high as $1 billion since 2002.

Howard Learner, the center's executive director, says the health problems point to the Fisk and Crawford plants.

"These are two of the oldest, dirtiest, most highly polluting plants in the entire country, and they're located near where more people live than any other old plant."

Learner says the plants should be shut down or cleaned up to reduce the health risks.

Midwest Generation, which operates the two plants, says it's hard to isolate the many sources of particulate pollution. Furthermore, the company asserts, the costs of closing the plants or installing the cleanup gear are prohibitive.

However, Learner says the costs of not doing it are far greater.

"This pollution has imposed $750 million to $1 billion in economic costs over the last eight years."

The Environmental Law and Policy Center analysis of the hidden public costs of particulate-matter pollution uses data from the National Research Council. The full report, "Midwest Generation’s 'Unpaid Health Bills': The Hidden Public Costs of Soot and Smog from the Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants in Chicago," is available at http://elpc.org/.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - IL