There is increasing pressure to develop Alaska’s coal for foreign export and domestic use, yet coal development poses serious threats to human health and the environment. The coal mining industry is the leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Inhaling coal dust also causes black lung disease in coal mine workers. Coal mining is also hazardous to people living nearby who have been found to have higher rates of cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension, lung disease and kidney disease. Communities near coal mines may also face health problems linked to water pollution, as exposed rock from rubble deposits and abandoned mines releases heavy metals and other pollutants that contaminate drinking water and surface water.
Listen to this call to learn more about:
- Why coal is toxic and which contaminants are released during mining, processing and transportation of coal.
- How living near coal mines can lead to adverse health effects including cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension, lung disease, and kidney disease.
- How water pollution from exposed rock from rubble deposits and abandoned mines releases heavy metals and other pollutants that contaminate drinking water and surface water.
- Proposed plans to develop coal mines at Chuitna and Wishbone Hill, why communities are concerned, and how you can get involved in protecting public health, salmon, and water quality from coal contaminants.
Coal Ash in Alaska https://www.akaction.org/wp-content/uploads/Coal_Ash_in_Alaska_Feb_20111.pdf
Coal Mining, Transportation and Health https://www.akaction.org/wp-content/uploads/Coal_Mining_Transportation_and_Health.pdf
Coal Ash and Health https://www.akaction.org/wp-content/uploads/CoalAsh_Health.pdf
Coal Mercury and Health https://www.akaction.org/wp-content/uploads/CoalMercury_Health.pdf
Mercury: Coal’s Toxic Trade Map https://www.akaction.org/wp-content/uploads/Mercury_Coal_Health_factsheet.pdf
Coal’s Assault on Human Health, Physicians for Social Responsibility report (Nov 2009)
Dennis Gann, Cook Inletkeeper. Dennis is a former commercial fisherman and tug vessel operator who worked escorting oil tankers through Prince William Sound. Prior to joining Inletkeeper in 2008, Dennis worked with the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, the Cook Inlet Alliance and Cook Inletkeeper on various water quality and fisheries projects related to hard rock and coal mining. Dennis now leads Inletkeeper’s efforts to organize opposition to the Chuitna coal strip mine.
Michele Prevost, MD. Dr. Prevost graduated from medical school at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 1993. Before training in orthopedic surgery, completed at Wilford Hall Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas in 2000, she spent two years as a flight surgeon (a form of occupational health). After a total of almost 25 years in the US Air Force, Dr. Prevost entered private practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Palmer, Alaska. She became interested in the health impacts of coal after being told that a large open pit coal mine was going to be developed directly adjacent and upwind to her new neighborhood.
Jessica Winnestaffer, Chickaloon Village Traditional Council. Jessica is the Environmental Stewardship Department Director for the CVTC. Jessica has worked as a fisheries biologist for CVTC for 8 years conducting salmon research, stream restoration for fish passage, salmon population enhancement and project management. Previously she worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game using sonar to count migrating salmon in the Yukon River and its tributaries. Jessica was raised in Sutton, Alaska and continues to make this rural community her home.