Unsafe levels of contaminants in the groundwater near coal-fired power plants across the United States, including the groundwater near six Wisconsin plants are identified in a report by nonprofits Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice. Elements like arsenic and lithium naturally occur in coal, and are in the coal ash produced from burning coal for electricity. Coal-fired plants conventionally mix coal ash with water to create ash ponds, which could seep into the groundwater and contribute to unsafe concentrations of arsenic and lithium for human consumption.
Groundwater concentrations of arsenic exceeded safe thresholds near two of Wisconsin’s coal-fired plants; lithium, near one; and, molybdenum, an element associated with gout-like symptoms in humans, near five of these plants. Utilities like Alliant Energy plan to reduce the health risks of leaky ash ponds at their coal-fired facilities over the next five years. Dairyland Power Cooperative showed no signs of hazardous groundwater contamination near its generation facility in Buffalo County. WSJ, WSJ