Coal Barge Pollution in the Mississippi River

Pollution flowing from a coal barge in the Mississippi River on 8/25/12. Photo by GRN. Flight provided by SouthWings.orgLately we have been blogging about the impacts of coal terminals and exports in and along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. (See past blogs: How Coal Exports Scum up our Wetlands , Coal Terminals Expanding in the Dirty South, Bird’s Eye View: Outrageous Dirty Secret They Don’t Want You To See, and Polluting Louisiana’s Last Hope?) Well, it turns out that the barges that folks use to transport coal and pet coke also pollute our waters.Recently there have been two barge companies, U.S. Maritime Services and CGB Marine Services, which have applied to renew their permits to wash the pollutants that they carry into the Mississippi. Not only would they be washing coal and pet coke into the Mighty Mississippi, but also metals like copper and lead, and Dead Zone-causing pollutants like phosphates and nitrates.Along with our friends at Sierra Club, LEAN, and Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, we filed comments on these permit renewal applications to get better protections in these permits. Click here for the US Maritime comments and here for the CGB Marine comments. Our main points include the need for monitoring of all the potential pollutants coming off of these barges, the need to address impacts these pollutants might have on the Gulf and the Dead Zone, better accountability as to where the pollutants are discharged, and an analysis to justify any pollution that they do allow.The more we dig into the existing , expanding, and new coal export facilities in the Gulf, the more we see the direct impacts they have on the water, wetlands, and surrounding communities…not to mention the impact the burning of this coal and pet coke will have on sea level rise and climate change.Matt is GRN’s Science and Water Policy Director.

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