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February 8,  2006
Press Release: Tell KCPL NO Rally - February 8 -  to focus on mercury
New study: One in five women tested nationwide has unsafe mercury levels 

Final Results of Largest Mercury Testing Project puts spotlight on KCPL’s plans for new coal-burning power plant.
(Nearly 1 in 3 Missouri women have unsafe levels of mercury)

On Wednesday morning, February 8,  community members opposed to KCPL’s proposed coal-burning power plant will gather in front of Great Plains Energy headquarters for the release of the results of the nation’s largest mercury hair-sampling project.

What:  Tell KCPL No Rally and press conference to release results of mercury study

When:  Wednesday, February 8th from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Where:  In front of KCP&L headquarters - 1201 Walnut in downtown Kansas City.

Video

The results of the nation’s largest mercury hair-sampling project were released today by the Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. The survey found mercury levels exceeding the EPA’s recommended limit of one microgram of mercury per gram of hair in one in five women of childbearing age tested.

More than 6,600 women from 50 states of all ages participated in the hair tests conducted by Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. Here in Missouri 19%, or almost 1 in 5 Missourians were found to have a dangerous amount of mercury in their bodies. Among woman of child bearing years, 30% or nearly 1 in 3 had unsafe levels of mercury – greater than the national test results.

The study comes at a time of growing concern over mercury in both Missouri and Kansas as several new coal-burning power plants have been proposed in each state. KCPL continues to pursue a new coal burning power plant that will lock the region into unhealthy, expensive, polluting technology for the next 50 years, without seriously considering alternative energy solutions that will be cheaper, cleaner, and safer for our community.

The TRUTH IS this power plant is only necessary for increasing KCPL’s profits.
The TRUTH IS KCPL wants to build excess capacity to sell on the open market.

The TRUTH IS we can do better - our long-term energy needs can be met with cleaner, cheaper and safer renewable energy sources.


Mercury contamination is a particular concern for women of childbearing years (16 to 49 years old) because mercury exposure in the womb can cause neurological damage and other health problems in children. The EPA has not established mercury exposure health standards for older children, men, or women older than 49.

"I teach my grandchildren, if you make a mess, you need to clean it up," said Byron Combs, from the Sierra Club. "The same rule should hold true for polluting power plants. This study should be a wake-up call for Missouri and Kansas to move to clean sources of energy in order to keep women and children mercury-free."

Coal burning power plants are the nation’s biggest mercury polluter, releasing 42 percent of the country’s industrial mercury pollution. Mercury from dirty power plants falls into lakes, streams and oceans, concentrating in fish and shellfish, which are then consumed by people.

“In the samples we analyzed, the greatest single factor influencing mercury exposure was the frequency of fish consumption,” said Dr. Steve Patch, Co-director of EQI and co-author of the report. “We saw a direct relationship between people’s mercury levels and the amount of store-bought fish, canned tuna fish or locally caught fish people consumed.”

In 2005, The Bush Administration proposed weak power plant mercury regulations that violate the Clean Air Act, according to 11 State Attorneys General. States have taken the lead in protecting Americans from mercury pollution, and, most recently, Illinois’ Governor Blagojevich called for 90% reductions in mercury. The spotlight now shifts to Governor Blunt, as Missourians call on him to follow suit.

Home hair sampling kits are available at cost via the Sierra Club website.
Full report.