Breaking News: Coal ash spills into Lake Michigan

Posted by Jamie Goodman | November 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Sentinel Journal

Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Sentinel Journal

In a bizarre concidence on the heels of an EPA update on hazardous coal ash ponds in the U.S., a coal ash dam a cliff wall on a coal ash pond a bluff wall containing backfilled coal ash in Wisconsin broke collapsed yesterday, spilling as yet unreported amounts of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan.

A pickup truck and several construction trailers were pushed into the lake when a football-field sized section of cliff at the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant in Oak Creek, Wis., gave way. According to the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Sentinel-Journal, the debris field stretched 120 yards long and up to 80 yards wide at the bottom. No one was hurt in the slide.

We Energies erected a boom and were scheduled to begin skimming fuel and floating debris from the surface of the lake this afternoon or early Wednesday.

According to an Associate Press story today, a We Energies spokeswoman said the landslide “likely contains coal ash.”

To read more:

4 Responses

  1. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    I don’t believe it’s correct to describe this incident as a coal-ash dam breaking … this wasn’t a dam.

  2. M. J. says:

    No one was hurt in the slide? What about all the 1 million plus people who drink Lake Michigan water which is now more contaminated with arsenic, mercury & lead contained in this toxic coal sludge? This toxic spill could have been avoided if this company took responsible care in handling & treated their toxic waste. This is not American to irresponsibly dump poison into our valuable & beautiful national treasure Lake Michigan part of The Great lakes, World’s second largest source of fresh water. Where is the outrage?

  3. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    I appreciate the update … but you’re still describing this as a coal ash pond — which it most definitely was not.

    Your updated post says:

    “a cliff wall on a coal ash pond … broke … ”


    This was a bluff where coal ash had, at some time in the past, been used as construction fill.

    Ken Ward Jr.

  4. jamie says:

    My apologies for the errors, Ken. The post was done in haste and I was not available to follow-up on the incident nor check the story facts more closely. No good excuses, just bad blogalism. Thanks for your efforts to keep me on the straight and narrow. The story has been updated. – j

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