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Blowing in the Wind: Coal Ash from Mirant’s Brandywine MD Disposal pits —

December 30, 2010

CTV Video News Cast; Brandywine ash disposal pits: On December 7, Fred Tutman, Patuxent Riverkeeper, and I accompanied CTV’s Patricia Villone, Newscaster and crew to Mirant’s Ash Disposal Facility in Brandywine, Maryland. Mirant is the electric utility company that operates the Chalk Point Power Plant located in Eagle Harbor, MD. The plant produces a huge amount of coal combustion waste — more than 8 million tons over the past 30 years.

Chalk Point Power Plant, Eagle Harbor, MD on Patuxent River; source: MD Power Plant Research Program

Fred Tutman, Patuxent Riverkeeper, photo: H. Cole

Coal ash contains numerous toxic metals including arsenic, lead, cadmium, selenium, mercury, chromium, cobalt, and other toxic components. Several environmental organizations including Patuxent Riverkeeper and Sierra Club and the Maryland Department of the Environment this year sued  Mirant ongoing operating violations and unauthorized pollutant discharges.


The CTV newscast shows amazing footage that captures large quantities of dust being blown off unprotected mounds of coal ash.  See it here. The windblown dust containing toxic metals can settle and accumulate in soils, gardens, porches and can be brought indoors on shoes, clothing and by pets. There are homes, a “tot-lot,” and a little league ball field in close proximity to Mirant’s ash facility. Some of the metals in coal ash have been linked to cancer and neurological damage to humans. Significant exposures to these toxins are possible after 40 years. These contaminants also leach into groundwater and have been discharged from the company’s drainage ponds into the Mattaponi Creek (a subject of the law suits).

We thank CTV’s Patricia Villone for her excellent coverage and Ara Laughlin for his stellar photography.


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