The Sierra Club, an influential grassroots environmental organization has announced their intention to sue We Energies, after last weeks bluff collapse near the Oak Creek Power Plant site, saying it was a predicted and preventable disaster. Since the collapse, crews have been working around the clock, and the shoreline has undergone a dramatic transformation.
Cleanup crews have had to battle wind and rain - rain being a major concern as they worried it would trigger another collapse and mudslide, sending further debris into Lake Michigan. Two booms were installed in Lake Michigan to collect debris, and a berm was set up on shore, to stabilize the shoreline.
The collapse of the bluff at the We Energies construction site spilled an estimated 25,000 cubic yards of coal ash, 2,500 of which entered Lake Michigan. Many worried the coal ash would threaten local drinking water supplies, but the Department of Natural Resources say that's not something to worry about.
However, the coal ash could harm nearby aquatic life, and the DNR says they're still awaiting test results before they'll know that impact for sure.
The Sierra Club, now saying they'll sue We Energies, says coal ash, which is the byproduct of burning coal, is very dangerous. They say heaving metals such as like arsenic and mercury remain in the ash after the coal is burning, and can cause health problems, like cancer, birth defects, kidney damage, and nerve damage.
“We Energies must be held responsible for the toxic mess at the bottom of Lake Michigan. We Energies has essentially turned Lake Michigan, a national treasure that supplies drinking water to over 10 million people, into a coal ash dump," Jennifer Feyerherm with Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign said.
There is still no word as to what may have caused the bluff collapse in the first place, and We Energies says that's something they're still investigating.
"We've been able to gather information, but right now, we don't have the root cause for why this occurred. We're going to continue that investigation, and certainly try to determine that, and then also provide ways to make sure that doesn't happen again," We Energies Spokesman Brian Manthey said.