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Gubernatorial Candidate Calls on Counterparts to Push for Vote Against Coal Ash Deposits

By on April 30, 2016

SAN JUAN – María de Lourdes Santiago, the gubernatorial candidate and senator for the Puerto Rican Independence Party, called on the heads of Puerto Rico’s two other major parties, David Bernier and Pedro Pierluisi, “to instruct their legislators” to approve Senate Bill 340 to prohibit the disposal of ash byproduct from AES Corp.’s coal-fired powerplant in private landfills in Peñuelas and Humacao.

“No one, no candidate can come to Humacao to talk seriously about the region and its economic development and stand idly by before the use of this town as a dumping ground for toxic waste, which no other country would consciously allow in its territory,” Santiago said in a written statement.

She said the ash “containing heavy metals and radioactive particulates, and the damage they cause is documented in Arroyo Barril, in the Dominican Republic, where 27,000 tons were deposited. That country stopped the ash deposits.”

According to a lawsuit filed against the Virginia-based power company, the deposited coal ash in the Dominican village caused birth defects, lung injuries and other medical problems.

Maria de Lourdes Santiago 1

Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago

“We aren’t here for ambivalences, the candidates must act and ensure the measure is approved. If Bernier managed to convince his people to vote for the [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] bill containing two increases to the electricity rate, surely he can lead them to vote for something that is just and urgent,” the party leader said.

She added that the Environmental Quality Board certified that between 2014 and 2015 some 350,000 tons of coal ash were deposited in the Humacao landfill.

According to AES, it meets all parameters established by the federal and local agencies that govern its operations.

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