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GLIN==> NWF, Conservation Groups Threaten Lawsuit on Mercury Emissions



For Immediate Release: October 27, 1999			   Contact: Julie Metty or Andy Buchsbaum, 734/769-3351

NWF, CONSERVATION GROUPS, THREATEN LAWSUIT AGAINST AEP TO FORCE REDUCTIONS OF MERCURY AND OTHER POLLUTANTS

Columbus, Ohio - Today's announcement that Midwest and national conservation organizations intend to sue American Electric Power Company *for Clean Air Act violations is good news, not only for people who breathe dirty air, but for fish and people who eat fish in the region.  The outdated power plants being targeted today emit not only soot, smog- and acid rain-forming chemicals, but huge quantities of toxic chemicals such as mercury - much of which rains down into the Great Lakes and other bodies of water producing devastating effects on people and wildlife.

"When mercury pollution goes up into the atmosphere, rain caries it right back down into the very waterways on which people and wildlife depend," said Tim Eder, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes Natural Resource Center (GLNRC).  "Last month, the National Wildlife Federation released a report showing that rain in the Midwest contains levels of mercury that far exceed what the Environmental Protection Agency considers 'safe' for water in the Great Lakes."

We are already living with the effects of mercury-contaminated rain.  Every one of the Great Lakes states has fish consumption advisories due to mercury.  Indiana and Ohio have issued advisories for every one of their inland waterways as a result of mercury-contaminated fish.  

"Mercury is a potent toxin that, even in small amounts, can have devastating effects on wildlife, as well as people who consume fish that come from contaminated waterways," said Dr. Michael Murray, Staff Scientist for the National Wildlife Federation's GLNRC.  "It can cause developmental disorders, brain, kidney and stomach damage and, at higher doses, even death in humans.  In wildlife, mercury is a reproductive hazard that can cause harmful effects on a range of species."

The plants that are part of today's action should be required to meet modern standards, which they could do by installing pollution control equipment, switching to cleaner fuels, or replacing the plants with newer technology.  In all three cases, there will be significant reductions in mercury and other air emissions.  

"The time for delay and denial is long past," said Eder.  "Now its time for the power plants to step up to the plate and do their share to restore the environment and protect human health and wildlife in the Midwest."	

The nation's largest member-supported conservation advocacy and education group, the National Wildlife Federation unites people from all walks of life to protect nature, wildlife, and the world we all share.  The Federation has educated and inspired families to uphold America's conservation tradition since 1936.  Its common-sense approach to environmental protection brings individuals, organizations, and governments together to ensure a brighter future for people and wildlife
			
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