Lee Sprague: Mercury pollution from coal a threat to tribe

"I see the TES Filer coal-fired power plant in Manistee every day. My children and community live in its shadow and breathe its air pollution. Piles of coal are on the shoreline of Manistee Lake, which drains to Lake Michigan. We are under current threat from coal ash waste contaminating water supplies in area considered to be one of the top ten fresh water fisheries in the continental U.S.

Mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants threatens my tribe, the Little River Band of Ottawa. Compared to others in Michigan, mercury pollution has a disproportionate impact on the health and welfare of our peoples, especially our children and our elders.

Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, pollutes our air from coal-fired power plants and then falls into waterways from rain or snow. Toxic mercury then accumulates in fish and the people who eat fish, putting pregnant women and their babies at risk for serious developmental and neurological problems. Mercury exposure threatens a child’s ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn.

Mercury pollution is a threat to all of us in Michigan, but my tribe’s traditional lifeways result in increased exposure to coal-fired power plant contaminants in the air, water and land.According to the EPA, 15.3 percent of white women of childbearing age have blood mercury levels above the health guideline, compared to 31.5 percent of Native women of childbearing age. "

Get the Story:
Lee Sprague: Protect our children from coal's toxic mercury pollution (The Muskegon Chronicle 4/21)

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