Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Mercury Message

South Carolina physicians are calling on DHEC to test citizens for mercury poisoning according to a story in today's Post and Courier. As others have pointed out on this blog, coal plants (and Santee Cooper in particular) are the main source of mercury pollution in our state and evidence suggests that this problem is getting out of control. From the P&C:

In a letter sent Nov. 14 to Earl Hunter, commissioner of the Department of Health and Environmental Control, neurosurgeon Ken Kammer called mercury a "pressing public health threat" and urged the department to respond "by undertaking testing of citizens."

Two other physicians, Tim Dancy and Bernetha George, are joining in Kammer's request, according to Nancy Cave of the Coastal Conservation League.

In his letter, Kammer cited a recent Post and Courier series that showed some people who eat fish from mercury-contaminated sections of the state's rivers have elevated levels of mercury in their bodies. High levels can cause brain damage and other health problems.

State officials have issued warnings about mercury-tainted fish in more than 1,700 miles of rivers, mostly on the coastal plain.

The newspaper's series, "The Mercury Connection," found that coal-fired power plants are among the biggest sources of mercury contamination. The newspaper identified especially high areas of contamination in a triangular shaped area near the site of Santee Cooper's proposed $1 billion coal-fired power plant.

To read The Post and Courier's previous stories on mercury, click here.

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