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Residents worry about coal dust from power plant

OAK CREEK, Wis. (AP) — Residents in southeast Wisconsin are concerned about how their health is being affected by black coal dust from a nearby power plant.

It takes about 12,000 tons of coal to power We Energies’ Oak Creek plant every day, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The coal arrives by the trainload and sits outside in large piles.

Nearby residents said coal dust is being blown from the piles outside the facility and into their neighborhoods.

“It’s in and on my air conditioner,” said Michelle Jeske, an area resident.

The dust may be contributing to asthma cases and breathing problems, said Michael Ganz, a local doctor.

“The coal dust that I believe is likely playing a strong relationship between these folks getting sick very often and actually having coal in their homes,” Ganz said.

Workers will limit or stop work on outdoor coal piles when it’s windy, said Tom Metcalfe, executive vice president of We Energies. The company also plans to lower a coal pile and cover it with a temporary sealant, he said.

“I have to say that, first of all, I am very sorry for the incidents that have caused us to be here this evening,” Metcalfe said at a recent community meeting. “We can and we must, do a better job.”

An air monitor and new wind barrier may also be added to the plant. More area residents will be offered tours of the plant and encouraged to ask questions, plant officials said.

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