An environmental group claims to have documented a link between coal ash and metals in drinking water in southeastern Wisconsin. Tyson Cook is the chief scientist for Clean Wisconsin. The group said it’s found a correlation between elevated levels of molybdenum in drinking water and sites where coal ash from We Energies was used for construction projects.
“When we mapped it all out we found that the contamination was widespread and significant,” Cook said. “In almost half of the wells with molybdenum data, the concentrations were above the Wisconsin enforcement standard, and in more than one in five, the concentrations were higher than the health advisory limit.”
A DNR official says there are “gaps” in the environmental group’s report. Ann Coakley is the DNR’s director of the Bureau of Waste and Materials Management. “There’s a lot of coal ash usage, but they don’t distinguish in their report between the three different types, and the only type that’s used as fill on the landscape is a type that we have a lot of testing on, and that we know doesn’t contain a high level of metals.”
Clean Wisconsin makes several recommendations based on its findings. Coakley says most of those would require changes to state or even federal regulations and thus can’t be acted on quickly.