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  Maryland Is Called the ''Persian Gulf'' of Mercury Pollution in the U.S.

ENVIRONMENT:

Maryland Is Called the “Persian Gulf” of Mercury Pollution in the U.S.

SOURCE: Chesapeake Climate Action Network

A new study of power plants shows nearly one in ten of the nation’s worst mercury polluters are in Maryland, yet energy companies with expensive lobbyists continue to kill clean-up bills in Annapolis.
An unusually large percentage of the nation’s dirtiest power plants are located in Maryland, burdening the state with very high rates of mercury, acid rain, and smog pollution while contributing to global warming, according to a new study released on May 11.

Out of hundreds of power plants examined nationwide, three Maryland plants were among the very top emitters of mercury, a harmful neurotoxin. The power plants, located in Prince George’s, Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties, burn tens of thousands of tons of coal per day and are owned by Mirant Corporation as well as Constellation Energy Group. The study also shows that one Mirant-owned plant, the Chalk Point plant in Prince George’s County, is the fourth worst emitter of nitrogen pollution in the US. Nitrogen is the single most harmful pollutant killing the Chesapeake Bay, according to scientists.

Last March in Annapolis, nearly one third of Maryland state lawmakers who were voluntarily tested showed elevated levels of mercury in their bodies, indicating the severity of the problem in the state.

“Shockingly, this study shows Maryland surpassing virtually all other states in the foul air we literally choke on from these dirty plants,” said Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network in a prepared statement to the press. “The real tragedy is that these power plants could easily be cleaned up without impacting consumers....”

The study, called “Dirty Kilowatts,” is based primarily on U.S. EPA data analyzed by the Environmental Integrity Project in Washington, D.C.

Mirant Corporation, headquartered in Atlanta, led efforts earlier this year to defeat legislation in Maryland that would have cleaned up the state’s dirtiest plants. The Chalk Point plant, according to government data, causes more than one hundred avoidable deaths per year directly related to its pollution emissions. The plant also contributes to avoidable cases of asthma and heart attacks and contributes to the growing mercury contamination found in Maryland fish.


For a copy of the Dirty Kilowatts report, visit environmentalintegrity.org or contact Mike Tidwell at mwtidwell@aol.com or 240-460-5838).


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This story was published on May 12, 2005.

 
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