The Southern Environmental Law Center has brought a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental (DHEC) control, claiming the department illegally permitted an unnecessary coal-fired power plant on the Great Pee Dee River that would emit 31 times more toxic mercury than the legal limit. The Southern Environmental Law Center claims the DHEC waived the maximum mercury controls required by law, a decision that would emit more than ten million tons of carbon dioxide and thousands of tons of toxic and particle pollution every year throughout the plant’s projected 50-year lifespan.

The DHEC waiver violates the Clean Air Act, according to the lawsuit. Already, the Great Pee Dee River and the nearby Lynches River both have posted limits on fish consumption due to mercury contamination.  According to EPA, coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury in the United States. Recent EPA-backed studies show most mercury contamination comes from these local and regional sources.

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