Kirk study: lake mercury level high
By John Roszkowski
Deerfield Review, Pioneer Press Online
Published September 29, 2005
A new study released by U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-10th,
of Highland Park, says coal-fired plants are a major source
of air pollution and mercury contamination in Lake Michigan.
"The findings of my commissioned report showed that
Lake Michigan has the heaviest mercury load of any of
the Great Lakes and that the Chicagoland area has the
highest level of mercury pollution in the country,"
said Kirk. "The source of this pollution is overwhelmingly
Kirk commissioned the study by the U.S. National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration last year on mercury levels
in the Great Lakes.
Coal-fired electric plants, many of which are scattered
throughout Illinois and the Midwest, were exempt from
adhering to the original mercury restrictions of the federal
Clean Air Act, passed in the 1970s, Kirk said.
Matt Towson, a spokesman for Kirk, said Lake County has
one coal-fired plant located in Waukegan.
President Bush has proposed new requirements for power
plants to reduce mercury emissions by 70 percent by 2017,
but Kirk favors legislation requiring a 90 percent reduction
in mercury levels by 2010.
"The kind of technology I'm advocating is 20 years
old and already is installed on thousands of smokestacks
across America," he said. "Only smokestacks
attached to coal-burning plants are still unregulated."
Kirk also is concerned about the threat of invasive species
to the ecosystem of the Great Lakes such as the Asian
Carp, the Lamprey Eel and the Zebra Mussel.
Kirk said he supports bi-partisan legislation to protect
the lake from invasive species.