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PSR briefs Senate on dangers from coal ash; petition signed by 850 health professionals

April 26, 2012

PSR doctors, flying in to Washington from six states, presented the Obama Administration with a petition signed by 850 health professionals voicing their concern about the toxic dangers posed by unregulated coal ash disposal.

Petition signers urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release a health-protective coal ash rule as soon as possible.  After introducing a draft rule almost two years ago, the EPA is still working on a rule to determine safe disposal practices based on the best available science and the comments of more than 450,000 Americans.

Coal ash, the waste that remains when coal is burned, contains dangerous quantities of arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium and other toxic metals. Improper coal ash disposal has resulted in catastrophic disasters like the Tennessee Valley Authority spill in December 2008 and has been linked to 189 cases of water contamination in 35 states.

The PSR delegation presented the petition personally to the EPA and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.  In addition Terrence P. Clark, M.D., president of Western North Carolina PSR; Maureen McCue, M.D., PhD, president of Iowa PSR; and Ronald Saff, M.D., representing Tampa Bay (FL) PSR briefed the Senate on the public health dangers that leaking, leaching and blowing coal ash poses to their communities.

  • In Iowa, coal ash dumps have polluted the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers with coal ash contaminants under the force of heavy rains and devastating flooding.
  • In Florida, groundwater is being contaminated – in one case, for over 20 years.
  • North Carolina has had to restrict fish consumption in the face of coal ash pollution of lakes and reservoirs.

Also participating in these events and meeting with their senators were John Rachow, PhD MD, of Iowa PSR; Robert Little, MD, of Harrisburg PSR; Pouné Saberi , MD, of Philadelphia PSR; William Sammons, MD, of Massachusetts and Yolanda Whyte, MD, of Atlanta.

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