LAS VEGAS – Reid Gardner Generating Station in Moapa emits 119 pounds of mercury every year — the most in Nevada —according to a new Environment Nevada report, “Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Mercury.”
The report found that power plants in Nevada emitted 298 pounds of mercury pollution in 2009. The report comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose a standard by March to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.
“Powering our homes should not poison Nevada’s kids,” said Leah Yudin, state field associate for Environment Nevada, in a written statement. “Mercury pollution from power plants puts our kids and our environment at risk, and we need the Environmental Protection Agency to force these facilities to clean up.”
Coal-fired power plants, which are the largest source of mercury pollution in the United States, emit mercury into our air. The mercury then falls into waterways from rain or snow, where it builds up in fish then the animals — including people — that consume the fish. Even very small amounts of mercury can have significant impacts, as studies suggest that a gram-sized drop of mercury can contaminate an entire 20-acre lake.
According to Environment Nevada, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to put her unborn child at risk for learning disabilities, developmental disorders and lower IQs. Mercury pollution also can cause reproductive failure and mortality in fish and animals. The EPA found that the Carson River and Washoe Lakes are contaminated by mercury pollution, contaminating fish that live in the waterways.
“The American Lung Association in Nevada supports cleaning up coal-fired power plants and all the emissions from them, including mercury,” said Amy Beaulieu of the American Lung Association in Nevada. “Some in Congress are pushing to weaken protections like this — protections provided to the people of Nevada for 40 years under the Clean Air Act. We urge our members of Congress to support these protections in the Clean Air Act, and to protect EPA’s ability to enforce the law.”