This just in: in addition to fruits and veggies, our nation’s children should be getting their daily dose of coal ash. Or at least that’s what statements at a public hearing in Franklin County, Missouri, seem to suggest.
Just last week, there was a hearing for a lawsuit filed by the Labadie Environmental Organization over a zoning amendment that would allow Ameren Corp. to construct a new coal ash landfill in the heart of a floodplain. Toxicologist Dr. Lisa J.N. Bradley, testifying on behalf of Ameren Energy Corporation, said, “A child could consume coal ash every day and have no increased exposure to arsenic.”
Bradley was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the American Coal Ash Association, a lobbying organization whose membership includes Ameren, Duke Energy, Southern Company and other large coal-burning utilities. Unfortunately, it seems that conflict of interest was lost on Associate Circuit Court Judge Robert D. Schollmeyer, who dismissed the lawsuit citing Bradley’s testimony.
There are many who have had to face the traumatic effects of toxic coal ash firsthand. Following the AES Corporation’s dumping of 80,000 tons of coal ash waste along the shores of the Dominican Republic between 2003 and 2004, the country’s women have suffered years of consistent miscarriages, abnormal levels of arsenic in their blood, and births to babies with cranial deformities, external organs, and missing limbs.
While we have yet to uncover such a horrific case here in the states, concerns over coal ash are real. Archie Dixon lives just south of Belmont, N.C., where Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds are some of his closest and most unwelcome neighbors. Distrustful of the visible grime and discoloration of his water, Mr. Dixon has been buying bottled water for years, unwilling to ingest the water from his home’s private well. Despite reassurance from Duke Energy officials who say that lab tests show that the sediment in Mr. Dixon’s water is of naturally occurring materials, he refuses to take any risks with his water. Dixon is not the only member of his community concerned about coal ash.