Three Indiana power plants have landed on an environmental group's tally of the 50 facilities in the nation that emit the greatest amount of poisonous mercury into the air and water.
Together, the 50 plants last year released about 20 tons of mercury, which can cause permanent damage to brains, kidneys and developing fetuses, according to a report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit that advocates for stricter enforcement of environmental regulations. "Many of the nation's dirtiest and oldest power plants continue to operate," said Ilan Levin, senior attorney with the group. "We need a strong national rule that mandates 90 percent reduction from every power plant."
The group dubbed 12 states, including Indiana, the "dirty dozen" because they had the most plants on the Top 50 list.
All three of the Indiana plants on the list say they have mercury reduction projects under way.
Indiana has no restrictions specifically addressing mercury emissions from power plants. The state is enacting a rule to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions, which also would reduce mercury emissions.
Coal-fired power plants are the single largest contributor, accounting for 40 percent of mercury emissions across the country. Mercury also is used in the manufacturing of certain vehicle parts, dental fillings, thermometers and batteries.
Environmental activists would like the state to do more to reduce emissions from power plants.