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Health study requested on Green Bay's coal piles

Coal piles



GREEN BAY - A new push is underway to examine the potential health effects of a long-time part of the downtown Green Bay landscape, the city’s coal piles.

The push to reignite the conversation is being prompted by Erik Hoyer, a Brown County supervisor.

Patrick Marciniak lives across the river from downtown Green Bay's coal piles. He moved in ten years ago, thinking the piles were going to be moved. He now pressure washes his home twice a year to remove built up coal dust.

“They're a nuisance,” Marciniak said of the piles. “The outside of the house you can't keep clean. The inside of the house, the dust builds up like you wouldn't believe.”

The buildup has Hoyer wondering what the health impact is.

“The other aspect of the communication was to see what kinds of solutions we could purpose to integrate the impact of that dust,” said Hoyer.

Jim Schmitt has been working on solutions since he became mayor in 2003.

“Ultimately we have to get the coal piles relocated so we can develop the riverfront,” said Schmitt in 2003.

Now running for a fourth term, Schmitt says he still looks at the issue at least once a year.

“It's an eyesore, but in terms of safety issue, we've never gotten any complaints that it's exceeded any standards,” said Schmitt.

A 2004 study showed it would cost $29 million to move the coal piles. That study did not address potential health impacts.

The coal piles belong to C Reiss Coal of Koch Industries. A company spokesperson told us it is not considering a move. Within the past few years, the company spent $300,000 to upgrade its dust suppression equipment.

“We work very hard to be a good neighbor and we always want to be a good neighbor and we're committed to making sure our product is handled in compliance with all rules and regulations,” said Jake Reint, a spokesperson for C. Reiss Coal Co.

If the coal piles aren't moving, Marciniak says he is.

“If they want to do something with it, I think it's time,” said Marciniak.

Supervisor Hoyer put in a request to the county board to provide any documentation it has about potential health risks of the coal piles.

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