Coal Ash Wednesday: Denial is a river in Egypt

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Duke Energy does not like new report on Allen Steam Station:

At the Allen plant on Lake Wylie, coal ash storage sites have polluted groundwater with nine contaminants, including arsenic, cobalt and lithium, at levels exceeding federal safety standards, the report said. The findings, released by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, are based on data that became publicly available for the first time last year because of federal regulations.

Charlotte-based Duke pushed back on the findings, accusing the environmental groups of cherry-picking data in an attempt to advance a misleading narrative and extreme agenda.

If by "cherry-picking" you mean highlighting important data points so they won't get lost in the noise, then yes:

Plant rankings in the study were determined by how much contaminants surpassed the safe levels, the report said. At Allen, the contaminants that exceeded levels the most were cobalt (532 times), lithium (12 times) and selenium (seven times).

“At a time when the Trump EPA — now being run by a former coal lobbyist — is trying to roll back federal regulations on coal ash, these new data provide convincing evidence that we should be moving in the opposite direction: toward stronger protections for human health and the environment,” Abel Russ, lead author of the report and attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, said in a statement.

That Cobalt finding is worrisome, since Arsenic is very often present in equally high concentrations. Like the buddy system, I guess. But Cobalt itself, especially at such levels, can wreak havoc on the human body:

Cobalt has been found to have reproductive and developmental effects in animals. Rats exposed to cobalt (as cobalt chloride) at 13.3–58.9 mg/kg body weight per day for 2–3 months and mice exposed to cobalt (as cobalt chloride) at 43.4 mg/kg body weight per day for 13 weeks exhibited testicular degeneration and atrophy. Male mice exposed to cobalt chloride at doses of 46.9 or 93.0 mg/kg body weight per day and mated with unexposed female mice displayed decreased epididymal weight, sperm count, testes weight, and fertility, as measured by the number of successful matings. In developmental studies, pregnant rats exposed to maternally toxic doses of cobalt chloride (5.4 or 21.8 mg of cobalt per kilogram body weight per day) produced newborn pups with stunted growth and decreased survival, but no teratogenic effects were observed. Rabbits exposed to cobalt (as cobalt sulfate) at 7.6 mg/kg body weight per day had increased fetal resorption and an increased number of fetuses with retarded body weight.

Inhalation and dermal exposure to cobalt in humans can result in sensitization. Bronchial asthma has been described in workers exposed to various forms of cobalt. Humans ingesting cobalt chloride at 150 mg/day for 22 days experienced polycythaemia and an increase in haemoglobin. Studies have also reported cardiomyopathy in humans who had consumed large quantities of beer that contained cobalt sulfate.

Interstitial lung disease caused by metallic cobalt-containing particles is an occupational lung disease generally referred to as hard metal lung disease. Mortality studies of the hard metal industry suggest an increase in lung cancer mortality. Cobalt is used as a binder in this industry, and exposures to other com-pounds, including tungsten carbide and other metallic compounds, such as titanium carbide, tantalium carbide, and niobium carbide, also occur.

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