Group blames Consumers plant for chemicals in wells

Ottawa County

PORT SHELDON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An environmental group is accusing Consumers Energy of contaminating drinking water in West Olive.

The Sierra Club claims coal ash coming from Consumers’ J.H. Campbell Coal Plant near Pigeon Lake is causing high levels of arsenic, lead and radium in private wells nearby.

The club tested the four homes in July. It says one home had arsenic levels 2.5 times higher than what’s considered safe for drinking and another tested positive for barium and radium.

The environmental group is blaming coal ash, a harmful byproduct that contains heavy metals, that’s being produced at the plant.

In a statement to News 8, West Olive resident Dr. Paul Keck said he has been undergoing treatment for arsenic, lead and mercury in his body for the last two winters. He said that when he’s out of town, his levels are fine and that when he returns home, they start to climb again. Keck went on to ask Consumers to clean up the alleged toxic ash.

Consumers Energy says it routinely monitors the site and that its data shows something different that the Sierra Club’s.

“We would like to see the data that the Sierra Club has. It’s inconsistent with the data that we’ve collected over the last 25 years,” Consumers CEO Patti Poppe said. “We routinely collect data about the water quality on and near that site and so we’re anxious to see that data because we stand for clean water.”

Poppe said the J.H. Campbell plant is one of the plants that the Jackson-based utility plans to replace with renewable energy at some point, but that the Sierra Club’s findings do not mean it will end coal operations there sooner.

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