Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | May 22nd, 2018
Coal ash–a byproduct of burning coal–is a form of pollution often not talked about, but its effects cut deep, especially for families living in ash-contaminated areas.
One such family is paying the price for a deal signed over fifty years ago. The Peelers, who run a ranch in the heart of rural Texas, agreed to sell part of their land to San Miguel Electric Cooperative, a company that proposed a coal mine in the area–an attempt to bring proper electricity to the state’s non-urban population.
Now, years later, heaps of coal ash that have been dumped near their ranch contaminate the Peeler’s land and water, leaving many of their fields barren.
Coal ash has been found to contain many harmful elements, including so-called “heavy metals” like arsenic and mercury. These elements damage wildlife, the natural environment, and humans, leeching into soil and groundwater if not properly taken care of. A new bill in Illinois is urging forward a measure that would require coal plants to better seal off their ash deposits.
The bill may not come to pass. But the threat that coal ash poses to the environment is well-documented–and currently being lived out–by one Southern family fighting for their ranch.