Bluff collapses at Wisconsin power plant, sends coal ash and dirt into Lake Michigan

A bluff collapsed next to a coal power plant in Wisconsin on Monday, sending debris, dredging equipment and a pickup truck into the lake. No one was hurt in what the Coast Guard says was a "freak accident."

A bluff collapsed next to a coal power plant in Wisconsin on Monday, sending debris, dredging equipment and a pickup truck into the lake. No one was hurt in what the Coast Guard says was a "freak accident."

"It is probable that some of the material that washed into the lake is coal ash," a company spokesman says.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the EPA is revamping regulations around coal ash following a pond washout in Tennessee in 2008 that created an environmental disaster.

Coal ash can be nasty stuff, according to a report in Scientific American. The magazine notes "the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts."

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Wisconsin DNR says coal ash spill poses no health threat

Coal ash spilled into Lake Michigan after a bluff collapsed below a coal power plant. But experts tested the waters and say the coal ash is so diluted that it should pose no threat to human health. The Sierra Club is suing the power plant owner. The group claims the company is violating the state's environmental laws and alleges the coal ash does pose a serious threat to health and the environment.

Wisconsin coal plants cut emissions under legal pressure

Coal plants in our neighbor state have been violating clean air rules for years with little push back from state or federal regulators, according to a report from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and other news organizations. But the nonprofit Sierra Club has campaigned for a decade and applied legal pressure to force energy producers to cut emissions.

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The state of North Dakota and its coal power industry want to overturn a Minnesota law that limits imports of electricity generated by coal. Critics claim the law is unconstitutional and unfairly limits business between the states.

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An estimated six to eight people were hurt in a 12-foot deck collapse at a home in Forest Lake Saturday night, authorities with the Washington County Sheriff's Office say. The deck was reportedly loaded with more than two-dozen people who gathered for a photo when it collapsed. The extent of their injuries remains unclear.

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Clean-energy supporters are demanding that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission order Xcel Energy to better plan how it will retire the two oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants at its Sherco Generating Station, which produces electricity for the Upper Midwest, the Pioneer Press reports. Renewable advocates packed an all-day hearing Thursday at the commission. They say Xcel has failed to study how wind- and solar-generated energy might replace the Sherco units.

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