Coal-fired power plants are the nation’s biggest water polluters – every year, they dump millions of pounds of pollutants, including toxic metals like arsenic, boron, mercury, cadmium, lead and selenium, into our rivers, streams, and lakes. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 50% of all toxic water pollution comes from coal-fired power plants.
Four out of five coal plants in the country have no limits on the amount of toxic heavy metals they can dispose of in our water. Even worse, some of these plants are dumping polluted wastewater directly into rivers, streams, and lakes that are already impaired because of these toxic heavy metals. Exposure to these toxic metals can cause cancer, birth defects, neurological damage, and other serious health problems. These metals can also persist in the environment for decades, and concentrate up the food chain.
Our report on water pollution from coal-fired power plants underscores the need for strong standards to curb the amount of toxic metals and other harmful chemicals these plants dump into rivers, lakes, streams and bays. Though power plants are the biggest industrial water polluters, they are also the industry with the weakest water pollution standards. Our research found that nearly 70% of plants are allowed to dump unlimited amounts of arsenic, lead, boron, cadmium, mercury and selenium directly into water bodies across the country. Worse, some plants discharge these toxic metals into water bodies that are already contaminated with these same metals or are upstream of communities drinking water. Read the full report here.
On Friday, April 19th EPA released the first ever national safeguards to limit toxic metals and other chemicals dumped into our water by power plants. These safeguards are 30 years overdue. Limiting the amount of toxics in our water through these commonsense and affordable safeguards will protect public health by ensuring our water is safer to drink and our fish is safer to eat. Send a message to the President and tell him to stop power plant water polluton today!