Workers allegedly denied safety gear, told coal ash ‘safe enough to eat’
A lawsuit filed last month against American Electric Power‘s (NYSE:AEP) Gavin landfill site in Ohio, on behalf of 77 people, claims that workers were exposed to toxic chemicals in coal ash, which led to several illnesses and deaths.
The suit alleges the plaintiffs were told the waste was non-toxic and that they didn’t require wearing protective gear, West Virginia Records reports.
According to the paper, a supervisor allegedly responded to workers inquiries about whether dealing with coal waste was safe “by sticking his finger into the coal waste and then placing his fly-ash covered finger into his own mouth,” thereby implying that “that coal waste was ‘safe enough to eat,’”
A Sierra Club study claims that 140 million tons of coal ash pollution are produced each year containing high levels of toxic heavy metals, yet are not federally controlled. As a result, says the grassroots environmental organization, the pollutants are stored in poorly regulated sites, including ponds and abandoned mines, leaving nearby towns vulnerable to toxic pollution. In fact, people living within a single mile of unlined coal ash ponds have a strongly elevated risk of cancer.