Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Price of Clean Air

I’m sure I’ve posted about this before, but The New York Times has been running a really fantastic series this year called “Toxic Waters” where they have exposed some of the worst chemical polluters in America. I’ve been following it religiously, and found myself skimming through the old stories today. Their last story was published in December and I’m obviously going crazy waiting for more! So, to make my wait less difficult, I just had to mention something about their October piece, “Cleansing the Air at the Expense of Waterways.”

The reporter relates the story of Allegheny Energy, a plant located in Pennsylvania. They were found to be emitting exorbitant levels of mercury into the air, which in turn is rained down into the waterways, into the fish, and into our bellies. Per the Clean Air Act, they began to reduce emissions by “scrubbing” their smoke-stacks with water and chemical sprays. The effort was successful in lowering toxic levels of mercury emissions, but the chemicals used to “scrub” have run into the Monongahela River. The article says this river provides drinking water to 350,000 people! While reducing toxic mercury emissions from the air is certainly something to applaud, doing so by essentially re-routing the poison is just  irresponsible in my eyes.

Apparently, the federal government is still not coming down very hard on these plants. The article says there are “no federal regulations specifically governing the disposal of power plant discharges into waterways or landfills.” How can this still be the case when the E.P.A. reported in 2007 that people living close to power plants were at a 2,000 times greater risk of getting cancer. AND we have proof that mercury poisoning causes neurological damages in fetuses and small children!

In addition, I’ve spoken about this time and again, but fines for plants in violation of regulations that do exist are still not substantial enough to dissuade them from polluting in the future! How is the government supposed to stop these plants from poisoning the public if they enforce no penalties?

Until the federal government steps up and insists on their regulations being followed, your next glass of H20 may have toxic waste pollution.

Article: N.Y.Times
Image: Matt and Kim Rudge

1 comment:

  1. I lived there until I was 15, then we moved away.