Mercury Destroying National Park Habitat, Park Animals at Risk

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   September 19, 2006
Contact:  

Mark Wenzler, Clean Air Director, NPCA, 202-223-6722, ext. 101



Mercury Destroying National Park Habitat, Park Animals at Risk

National Parks Group Supports Wildlife Federation Findings About Extent of Problem, Says Parks at Turning Point on Air Pollution

Louisville, KY – The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) echoes the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) call for clean energy in its new report Poisoning Wildlife: The Reality of Mercury Pollution released today. NPCA’s own recent report on air pollution in the national parks, Turning Point, supports the NWF report findings that mercury pollution is widespread.

"Mercury, running through many of the lakes and streams in our national parks, is subsequently poisoning the animals who depend on the parks," said NPCA Clean Air Director Mark Wenzler. "Coal-fired power plants are the primary culprits, and the country is poised to build a whole new generation of them, which will spew even more toxic mercury unless we act today to change this course."

NPCA’s Turning Point speaks to this crossroads and like NWF’s Poisoning Wildlife points to clean energy technology as one solution. "Clean air in national parks and mercury-free wildlife requires, among other things, choosing clean energy and enacting stronger power plant mercury controls to eliminate toxic hot spots," said Wenzler.

As NWF’s report shows, mercury is making its way into nearly every habitat in the U.S., finding no exception in the national parks. High levels of mercury can be found in national parks throughout the Southeast region, including at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Noted in NPCA’s Turning Point, Mammoth Cave National Park is a dumping ground for mercury from dozens of coal-fired power plants in the region. The park’s endangered Indiana bat was found to have mercury levels two to three times higher than the US Environmental Protection Agency recommended limit. A new coal-fired power plant, under development just 50 miles west of Mammoth Cave, would release another estimated 200 to 300 lbs. of mercury into the air per year.

"Wildlife are truly on the front lines of the mercury problem, and this new research confirms that mercury pollution poses a severe threat to our treasured wildlife," said Catherine Bowes, manager of NWF’s Northeast mercury campaign and principal author of Poisoning Wildlife: The Reality of Mercury Pollution. "The discovery of mercury in so many different species is a wake-up call."

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