Clean Power Coalition-Southeast Wisconsin
Press Release

Coal Dust Found Again Coating Oak Creek Cars and Playground

Neighbors of We Energies’ plant outraged and concerned for their families

By - Mar 26th, 2018 08:26 am
An aerial view of We Energies’ twin Oak Creek and Elm Road coal-fired power plants south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Image from Google Earth.

An aerial view of We Energies’ twin Oak Creek and Elm Road coal-fired power plants south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Image from Google Earth.

Oak Creek, WI – On Sunday afternoon, for a second time this month, Coal dust was found covering properties, cars, and the local playground in neighborhoods just north of the Oak Creek power plants. This latest incident occurred despite We Energies’ claims that they have upgraded their operating procedures to resolve dust issues. Breathing in coal dust is linked to chronic respiratory issues and exacerbation of asthma. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Coal dust also contains toxic heavy metals including arsenic, mercury, and lead.

“I am worried for my kids. We can see the coal pile from our yard and we have no protection,” said Michelle Jeske, a resident in the area and a mother of four boys. “This happens all the time, at least every couple of days. It’s not a rare occurrence, and it’s not just a nuisance. We’re breathing it in.”

“This isn’t a one-time thing like We Energies claims. We found coal dust here on Thursday on the cars. We Energies responded by giving me a car wash coupon,” said Greg Millard, another resident near the power plant. “Today it’s back again, on the cars, on the playground, all over the place. This is the third time in three weeks. Something’s gotta be done.”

“Today’s incident is just more proof that there’s no safe way to run a coal plant,” said Dana LaFontsee, a spokesperson for the Clean Power Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin. “We Energies claims they have taken extra precautions, but it’s just common sense that if you put a massive pile of dusty, toxic coal next to a neighborhood, it’s going to blow into the air people breathe. We need clean energy, not excuses.”

We Energies has agreed to attend a public listening session in a little over a week to hear directly from those who are impacted.  The Public Listening Session is scheduled for April 4 from 6 to 7:30 at the Oak Creek Library.

The Clean Power Coalition-Southeast Wisconsin will educate the public about the dangers of burning coal on the health of those who live and work in the vicinity of We Energies’ South Oak Creek and Elm Road Power Plants. How we choose to generate electricity has consequences that reach far beyond the return on shareholder investment, affecting everything from public health to a stable climate. When air, water, and soil are polluted, health and life are put at risk. The Clean Power Coalition will promote public debate about the appropriate source of energy for Southeastern Wisconsin. At the same time, the coalition urges We Energies to: 1.) immediately contain the coal dust and other health hazards emanating from the Oak Creek plants, 2.) phase out its use of coal, and 3.) promote rather than obstruct the adoption of renewable energy throughout its service territory.

Clean Power Coalition convening member organizations: Eco Justice Center / Environmental Accountability Group / Greening Greater Racine / Moms Clean Air Force / Racine Dominicans / Racine Green Party / Sierra Club, Beyond Coal Campaign / Sierra Club, Southeast Gateway Group / Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light / 350 Milwaukee

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4 thoughts on “Coal Dust Found Again Coating Oak Creek Cars and Playground”

  1. We Energies says:

    Response from We Energies:

    We would like the opportunity to set the record straight.

    It is incorrect to state that there has been a second incident. We believe it to be residual coal dust from the incident on March 4-5.

    No dust was blowing off the piles on Sunday. Our video monitoring confirmed this. The pile has not had machinery on it since Thursday of last week, and is saturated with water from our dust suppression system.

  2. John says:

    What about all the coal, dust over decades, being blown into Lake Michigan with the predominant northwest winds in the area? The problem is not just when coal dust is blown into Oak Creek neighborhoods.

  3. Old Man Yells at Cloud says:

    I like how weinergies ‘set the record straight’ without even trying to deny that this dust is dangerous. “The toxic dust is just residual from a couple weeks ago, no need to panic folks”

    It was very windy this weekend, wouldn’t be surprised if coal dust made it past the vaunted ‘dust suppression system’ which is probably a dude with a garden hose.

  4. Lets set the record straighter. This is not residual coal dust and we energies would not know if it was or was not. They have no monitoring set up other then a cheap video camera that you would not be able to see the very fine dust blowing off the pile with this type of monitoring . I live northwest of the pile which has been a problem since it was put in. No help from the mayor of Coal Creek or the DNR. We energies is going to slowly KILL us and we need help.

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