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Pressure mounts for disclosure of Mercury Pollution

By adriana_acosta
June 12, 2012 at 1:12 a.m.

No Coal Coalition, local business owners and Texas Siera Club held a press conference on Thursday at Rawlings Bait Camp with a boat tied to dock holding mercury contamination signs, fishing poles, bucket of shrimp and 96 pounds of rice ilustrating the amount of mercury White Stallion plant would emit.

The National Shrimp Day, Matagorda County fishermen, residents and air quality experts met Thursday calling on the proposed White Stallion power plant to come clean about mercury emissions.

"The questions we raised today are exactly the types of questions we want our local elected officials to be asking White Stallion," said Mike Talasek, a local fisherman and business owner.

Talasek said his livelihood depends on the fishing industry saying if the plant is built it would pump mercury into the air every year.

"Why would our mayor and community leaders support a dirty plant and turn their backs on an industry that has such a long rooted history in the community and is contributing so much to our local economy?" he asked the audience.

In a press release, the Texas Sierra Club said coal plants are the primary source of mercury pollution, and mercury from coal contaminates waterways and seafood.

Mercury contamination in fish has led to fish consumption advisories, where pregnant women are advised to avoid eating certain types of seafood because mercury acts as a potent neurotoxin in babies and young children. A major new source of mercury pollution in Matagorda County could have a substantial negative impact on the local fishing and farming industries, it read.

"White Stallion continues to be a bad idea for Texas." said Lydia Avila, with the Sierra Club. "Texas is at a crossroads. We don't need new big coal plants that pollute our air and water. We need smarter policy makers that are open to diversifying our electric grid with more wind, solar and efficiency so that our seafood economy can continue to thrive."

Randy Bird, chief operating officer for White Stallion responded by saying the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality has issued an air permit that is protective of human health for all emissions from the proposed facility.

"White Stallion is a supporter of the Matagorda County fishing community and we regularly stop for a quart of fresh oysters from Buddy Triebig's store," he said. "People in Matagorda County that are over 50 years old have more mercury in the fillings in their teeth than will ever find its way into the bay from White Stallion."

The national groups opposing this project would not be satisfied with any further reduction in emissions unless it was zero, he added. "They are further trying to de-industrialize America and insure that all manufacturing jobs are sent overseas by moving past their "Beyond Coal" campaign and beginning their new war on natural gas fired generation in their "Beyond Natural Gas" campaign," he said.

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