Clean Energy Advocates Expose Coal Ash Discovery on Michigan State University’s Campus


News from Clean Energy Now

Wednesday, February 6, 2012

Contact: Jessica Tramontana, 974-6302

Advocates calling on campus administration to properly dispose of toxic materials and retire MSU’s coal plant to prevent future instances of coal ash contamination

EAST LANSING – Members of Clean Energy Now called on Michigan State University’s (MSU) administration to retire its coal plant and properly dispose of the coal ash excavated from construction sites, at a press conference Wednesday in East Lansing. According to a report to the Department of Environmental Quality, it shows a discovery of toxic coal ash was first made in October 2007 during an excavation of West Auxiliary Drive (now Recycling Drive). Some of the dangerous material was moved to a proper disposal site at Granger landfills, but more than 92,782 cubic yards of coal ash was “relocated” to MSU Police Firearms and Canine Training Facility on Jolly road.

“It’s time to think of the big picture, not just short term solutions that can lead to long term problems,” said Nic Clark, Executive  Director for Clean Water Action and MSU alum. “Simply moving dangerous coal ash from one site to another contaminated site on campus– while allowed under the law– it is not being ‘Spartan Green.’ The university needs to properly dispose of this material in a way that best protects East Lansing residents and Michigan State University students.”

Coal ash is a dangerous byproduct of burning coal, and contains toxic materials like mercury, lead and arsenic. Dozens of students and clean energy advocates met near the former excavation site to encourage Michigan State University administration to retire their coal plant to prevent dealing with additional coal ash, and properly dispose of the coal ash that was discovered on campus and moved to the Jolly road site.

“It’s time for MSU to ‘go green’ more than just in the athletic department,” said Callie Bruley, MSU student and president of MSU Beyond Coal. “There is no health threat from wind or solar power, and it’s time to shut down the university’s coal plant so we can keep our campus clean for future and current students like me.”

Using loose coal ash as construction fill has been proven to cause instances of contamination of drinking water and the environment. Clean energy advocates are working to educate Michigan residents about the cradle to grave dangers posed by using coal to create energy, including toxic pollution from improperly stored or recycled coal ash.

“There is a clear connection between instances of contaminated drinking water and nearby residents who have cancer rates as high as one in fifty,” said Joyce Stein, Rn for more than 30 years at the neonatal unit at the University of Michigan. “There is no excuse to stick our heads in the sand and pretend the problem of coal ash disposal isn’t an ongoing threat. We need to take the necessary precautions by removing this dangerous substance to a safe location.”

Doctors and medical professionals know all too well the serious implications that environmental pollutants have on nearby residents. They’re encouraging MSU to transition beyond coal to cut down on air pollution and other contaminants.

“As a doctor and researcher, I have spent my life studying diseases caused by pollutants” said Dr. Kenneth Rosenman, Professor of Medicine at MSU.  ”The legacy of coal ash buried on campus and the cost of its disposal is just another reason that the continued burning of coal on campus is bad for the health of both members of the MSU and surrounding communities.”

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Clean Energy Now is a collaboration of nearly 50 non-profit organizations in Michigan working to move our state toward a clean energy future.

Posted in Press Release

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