Iowa nurses protest proposed Waterloo coal plant - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa nurses protest proposed Waterloo coal plant

By Lauren Squires

WATERLOO (KWWL) - Tuesday, two non-profit groups representing Iowa doctors and nurses urged the state DNR to use stronger air quality standards in issuing a draft air permit for the plant. They worry about the health impact of unseen particles in the air.

A representative from the Iowa Nurses Association said the fight over LS Power's Elk Run Energy Station is a matter of time -- time needed for the EPA to enact stronger air standards. And in this case, she says, time is health.

Betty Sadler has lived on this farm outside Waterloo for thirty years.

"You'll see that tall, big pine trees and then you'll just, beyond that," said Sadler.

Sadler's also a nurse. So when she heard LS Power planned to build a coal plant close by. She worried about her health.

"The biggest concern is the particulate matter, it's the small particulate, PM2.5 that is the biggest health concern and it's a known health risk to the public. the EPA even admits it," said Sadler.

The proposed LS Power Plant going to literally be in their backyard, just a mile up the road; letting off emissions so microscopic, it's smaller than human hair. Nurses say it will affect the elderly and children the most.

"When kids go outside and run and play and take deep breaths that goes deeply into the lunges and embeds and causes them problems," said Sadler.

Problems LS Power says won't be an issue with the Elk Run Energy Station as it will meet all EPA guidelines.

"We are confident that we will not only meet, but exceed the EPA guidelines and therefore the plant will be safe," said Mark Milburn.

Still -- Sadler fears she's running out of time, waiting for stronger EPA standards.

"Iowa is very slow right now in getting those regulation in place. The EPA has the law to do it. But we're just very slow in implementing those regulations to have that in place for this coal plants air draft permit," said Sadler.

The Iowa DNR is expected to issue a draft air permit for LS Power's Elk Run Energy station some time next year. LS Power says it'll begin construction shortly there after.

The EPA strengthened standards for fine particle emissions in 2006. But Iowa is still in the process of putting those guidelines into practice.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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