In Attempt To Shut Down Coal Plant, Alex. Residents Test For Mercury | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

In Attempt To Shut Down Coal Plant, Alex. Residents Test For Mercury

Play associated audio
Ernie Lehmann gets his hair snipped so it can be tested for mercury levels. He's part of a group trying to shut down a coal plant in Alexandria.
Jessica Gould
Ernie Lehmann gets his hair snipped so it can be tested for mercury levels. He's part of a group trying to shut down a coal plant in Alexandria.

At BellaWest Hair Salon in Old Town Alexandria -- which bills itself as an eco-friendly salon -- a stylist snips off a lock of Ernie Lehmann's snow-white hair.

"I want to have it tested for mercury," he says.

Lehmann isn't trying to update his look. He's trying to protect his health -- and the health of his grandchildren.

"The ingestion of mercury has a terribly deleterious effect on their nervous systems," he says. "They're bright kids. I want them to stay bright."

For years, Alexandria residents have lobbied against the plant, formerly known as Mirant, in North Old Town. They argue it releases toxins, including mercury, into the air.

"I often notice it when I bike to work," says Seth Heald, a volunteer with the Sierra Club. "You can often taste it on your tongue as you're coming by breathing a little hard from biking."

In a statement, GenOn spokesperson Misty Allen says the power plant fully complies with federal and state environmental standards. The company has also invested approximately $84 million dollars in environmental controls, including a $34 million agreement with the City of Alexandria to make air quality improvements, says Allen.

The results of the mercury hair tests will take about a month to process.

NPR

Film About Campus Sexual Assault Tells Survivors: 'You Are Not Alone'

Survivors Annie Clark and Andrea Pino brought a Title IX complaint against the University of North Carolina. "This is not about UNC," Clark says. "We're not doing this to vilify our institution."
NPR

When Food Is Too Good To Waste, College Kids Pick Up The Scraps

Millions of tons of food are wasted on college campuses around the country, and students are noticing. Some of them are now rescuing food to make tasty meals for the needy and compost for gardens.
NPR

Jeb's Rowdy Supporters Help Him Escape The CPAC Lion's Den

The former Florida governor's supporters shouted down his hecklers at his much anticipated appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
NPR

A Neuroscientist Weighs In: Why Do We Disagree On The Color Of The Dress?

Robert Siegel speaks with Dr. Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist at Wellesley College, about the dress that has the whole Internet asking: What color is it?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.