February 13, 2006

A Packed House In Pilsen for Clean Power

Tonight at Dvorak Park fieldhouse in Pilsen, in the shadow of the Fisk power plant, about 150 residents turned out to hear about Illinois EPA's plans to propose new pollution controls for coal plants across Illinois, including the Fisk and Crawford coal plants owned by Midwest Generation.

A mother spoke with her young daughter, who is developmentally disabled, about her fears that living so close to a major mercury source may have harmed her child. Another mother whose 9-month old son already has developed asthma urged her neighbors to join the cleanup campaign. A lifelong community activist pleaded for help in taking legal action against the plants' owners.

State Senator Martin Sandoval, whose district includes the Little Village neighborhood, gave an impassioned statement of support for the Governor's cleanup plan. Illinois EPA gave an overview of the state's plan for developing the rules to implement the plan.

The Governor's cleanup plan is playing well in Pilsen, although some frustrated residents thought giving the plants three years to cut mercury pollution sounded about three years too long.

Nice work by PERRO , the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, and the Little Village Environmental Justice Project, in organizing the hearing and turning out a great crowd.

February 08, 2006

Mercury Hair Test Results: 1 in 4 Chicago-Area Women of Childbearing Age Tested Exceed Safe Levels

The results of the nation’s largest mercury hair-sampling project were released today, and the survey found mercury levels exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limit in one in five women of childbearing age tested across the country, but a higher rate (one in four) of contamination among Chicago-area women of childbearing age who participated in the survey.

As part of the national study, Sierra Club offered free mercury hair tests at Chicago-area salons in September and October of 2005. 104 Chicago-area residents participated in the testing events held in Highland Park, Warrenville, Willowbrook, Joliet, and in the Ravenswood, Bucktown, and Pilsen neighborhoods in Chicago. 53 were women of childbearing age, and 24.5%, or 1 in 4, were found to exceed the limit.

The Chicago-area numbers are not statistically significant, but they are cause for concern. We will continue to offer testings later this Spring to help more people learn their mercury levels, and to continue to increase the sample size in this important study.

More details are available here

February 03, 2006

New 2006 State Fish Warnings Add Mercury Hotspots

This week the Illinois Department of Public Health issued its annual fish consumption advisory.

IDPH is again warning women of child-bearing age about the risks of eating large predator fish from any river or lake in Illinois. Fish from these waters are listed as especially high in mercury contamination:

Arrowhead Lake, Campus Lake at Southern Illinois University, Cedar Lake, Devil's Kitchen Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Bracken, Lake in the Hills, Little Grassy Lake, Little Wabash River and Tributaries, Marquette Park Lagoon, Midlothian Reservoir, Monee Reservoir, Ohio River, Rock River (from Rockford to Milan Steel Dam), and the Wabash River

This list of "hotspots" has grown from last year - the Little Wabash and Wabash Rivers have been added. If you fish in Illinois, learn the facts and be careful about bringing your catch home to any women or children.