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For Immediate Release: May 7th, 2015

Berea Campaigner To Present Keynote Speech At Green Asia Forum In Seoul 
Forty-five Years of Activism From Vietnam Veterans Advocacy to Chemical Weapons Disposal Effort Gets Invitation     

Next week a staff person from Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF), located in Berea, Kentucky, will be making the Keynote presentation at the Green Asia Forum in Seoul, South Korea.

KEF’s Chemical Weapons Project Director, Craig Williams will present, “Solution Based Approaches Addressing Complex Problems” to an audience from the Asian region and around the world.

His experience dealing with safe chemical weapons destruction globally has provided him with a sense of how to accomplish success in dealing with complicated issues involving multiple bureaucracies and interests.

“The most impacting lesson I’ve gained over the years is that without a solution based approach to something you’re opposed to, you’ll not get very far,” said Williams. “And, you have to learn to work with all interested parties, even those who oppose your position,” he said.

Williams’ successes on the chemical weapons issue won him the 2006 Goldman Environmental Prize, often referred to as the “Environmental Nobel,” for North America.

The Green Asia Forum will be focused on issues such as alternative energy; climate change; water protection and conservation; forest preservation; environmental education and strategies on supporting local movements and campaigns.

“Obviously it is an honor to be invited to this event and I hope to share what I’ve experienced while learning much from others who are dedicated to preserving the eco-systems of or planet.  Without a healthy environment there exists no livable future,” he said.

The Forum runs from 10-14 May. Information on Williams’ sponsor to the event can be seen at: www.greenfund.org/greenfund_eng/

Media Contacts:

Craig Williams, Chemical Weapons Project Director

Heather Warman, Executive Director
1-859-509- 1502

Shelly Biesel, Communications Coordinator

For Immediate Release: March 24th, 2015

Kentucky Environmental Foundation to Make Documentary about Chemical Weapons Destruction in Madison County

Today the Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) will launch a 40-day Indiegogo campaign to raise money for a documentary highlighting the life and work of the organization’s founder, Craig Williams. 

After returning from the Vietnam War, Craig Williams looked forward to some normalcy. But in 1984, when he discovered that the Department of Defense planned to incinerate over 500 tons of toxic nerve gas and other chemical agents stockpiled near his small Kentucky hometown, Williams began the fight of his life.

Williams, a veteran and former Madison County cabinetmaker, organized an international grassroots coalition of stakeholders dedicated to safe chemical weapons disposal: The Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG). Through dedicated grassroots organizing, policy development and advocacy, the CWWG succeeded in passing groundbreaking federal legislation, ultimately forcing the Pentagon to abandon plans to incinerate weapons of mass destruction stored in four chemical weapons stockpiles across the United States, including the Blue Grass Army Depot stockpile near Williams’ hometown of Berea, Kentucky.  

For his work with KEF’s Chemical Weapons Working Group, Williams won the Goldman Environmental Prize (known as the environmental Nobel) in 2006. Last year, he was honored to give a presentation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Conference of States Parties convened at The Hague, Netherlands. 

The documentary, titled “NERVE” after the potent chemical weapon nerve gas, will be directed by Kentucky activist and filmmaker Ben Evans. Evans directed the award winning film YERTYour Environmental Road Trip in 2011. 

KEF will make the documentary to honor organization’s 25th anniversary, and the global fight against chemical weapons incineration. The goal of the film is to expose audiences to the realities of chemical weapons disposal, and the dangers incineration poses for towns and communities across the world. 

“We believe highlighting Craig’s work with CWWG will illustrate how grassroots activism can change everything, and to inspire others to join the fight,” says KEF Director Heather Warman. 

KEF is launching a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.com, where the trailer is available to view.   

Nerve Trailer
Nerve Website
Nerve Facebook

Media Contacts

Heather Warman, KEF Director
Phone: 1-859-509-1502 

Craig Williams, Chemical Weapons Working Group Program Director
Phone: 1-859-302-1103

Shelly Biesel, Outreach and Communications Coordinator 
Phone: 1-502-424-2644

For Immediate Release: January 6th, 2015

Yarmuth and other Policy Leaders to Speak at the Kickoff Meeting of Kentucky Sustainable Business Council
On January 15, 2015, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) will host the kickoff meeting of the Kentucky Sustainable Business Council (KYSBC). KYSBC is Kentucky’s chapter of the American Sustainable Business Council. The meeting is titled, “Legislation 101: How Kentucky Policy Impacts Your Business,” and will feature federal and state policy-makers such as Congressman John Yarmuth and State Senator Morgan McGarvey. These guest speakers will present policy issues likely to affect green business initiatives in 2015. KYSBC encourages business owners and entrepreneurs to attend and learn about policies important for sustainable business practices in the Commonwealth. 

The meeting is from 9:30-11:30 on Thursday, January 15th. It is open to the public and free (or $10 if attendees wish to stay for a networking lunch). The event will take place at the Kentucky Environmental Foundation’s office in C-Space, located in the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Building at 1640 Lyndon Farm Court, Suite 100 Louisville, KY 40223. Registration is highly encouraged; visit the event page to register

“We want to increase knowledge of Kentucky business owners about how economic development, labor, and environmental policies impact their businesses, their families and their communities.  We envision creating a public participation climate in which small business owners can articulate what changes are needed in ways that can be heard and understood by policymakers,” said Heather Warman, Executive Director of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.  

The Kentucky Sustainable Business Council (KYSBC) is an advocacy network initiative of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) that seeks to increase the ability of businesses to effectively act in advocacy roles. KYSBC helps business leaders support local, state and federal policies that promote sustainable businesses and communities. KYSBC informs and engages business leaders through educating about needs and opportunities for a sustainable economy, and helps connect business leaders to policy-makers.

For Immediate Release: December 19, 2014

New EPA Rule Fails to Protect Kentuckians from Hazards of Coal Ash

Kentucky citizens will face little immediate reprieve from the health impacts of coal ash with the release of the EPA and Obama administration’s new rule on the management of coal combustion waste.

Kentucky has 56 ponds, and generates about 9.2 million tons of coal ash annually, ranking 5th in the nation for the amount of coal ash we create. The EPA reports that Kentucky has the most number of coal ash dams rated “High Hazard” in the nation. This means at eight of Kentucky’s coal ash dams, if a disaster occurred like the one in Kingston, Tennessee, it would likely cost lives. The EPA has labeled six of Kentucky’s ash dams as a “Significant Hazard,” meaning an accident could cause property or infrastructural damage. 

Kentucky Environmental Foundation is disappointed that the rule falls short on many accounts, critical for the protection of health. Coal ash typically contains some of the world’s most dangerous metals: arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, selenium, and a host of others that in elevated doses can cause cancer, neurological disorders, lung disease, heart disease, birth defects, kidney failure, asthma and many other health problems. Yet, the new rule does not classify coal ash as “hazardous” waste.  While coal ash contains a spectrum of heavy metals threatening to human health, without a classification as a toxic waste, it will continue to be managed with less regulation than household garbage.

The rule also leaves our most vulnerable citizens at risk. Communities frustrated with inaction around leaking coal ash ponds or blowing dust cannot expect intervention by the federal government without enacting a lawsuit, which is financially prohibitive for the average citizen.

Although the new rule is a necessary first step, both Kentucky and the EPA are far from fully protecting citizens from the many hazards of toxic coal ash dumps. 

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2014

New Report Assesses Health Impacts of an Aging TVA Coal Plant
Community helped shape assessment of the Shawnee Fossil Plant near Paducah, KY

PADUCAH–The Kentucky Environmental Foundation has completed a study examining how retiring or retrofitting the aging, coal-fired Shawnee Fossil Plant could impact health in Kentucky communities. KEF’s study found that shuddering the plant could help reduce disease often caused by the plant’s harmful emissions, but that its full retirement could have other negative health consequences associated with the loss of employment opportunities and tax revenues.  The health impact assessment (HIA) that KEF conducted provides recommendations for mitigating the health impacts of either retiring or retrofitting the plant. 

KEF is releasing the study ahead of Governor Beshear’s Conference on Energy and the Environment, and encourages state leaders to use the HIA in order to put health at the forefront of Kentucky’s energy discussion. “The conversation around energy and health is tough in Kentucky,” said Deborah Payne, MPH, Health Coordinator for the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.  “Both economic and environmental factors can impact health. HIAs can be used to address such challenging issues in a manner that engages stakeholders with a wide range of perspectives.” 

HIA is an evaluation tool that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States for its ability to help identify and address the likely health benefits and risks of a decision made in a field outside the health sector.  The Shawnee Fossil Plant HIA looked at how a coal plant’s retrofit (adding pollution controls and other changes or upgrades) would impact the health of community members. Stakeholders from across the community were encouraged to participate in the process, including business leaders, health professionals and health-affected citizens. TVA provided comments on drafts of the HIA as well as opened the doors of the plant for a tour for the HIA advisory committee. 

An advisory committee comprised of community stakeholders assisted in the development of the HIA’s recommendations. The recommendations were then ranked according to what actions are most feasible and might have the most impact on community health. One recommendation for a retirement scenario included ensuring that TVA provide community leaders sufficient time to plan for economic transition. A recommendation included in a retrofit scenario involved setting up routine observance of the Air Quality Index (www.airnow.gov) by the local schools to monitor for poor air quality days. 

“Our community will be impacted in the future by the tough decisions our elected officials, the EPA, and TVA are facing around both the environment and our economy,” said Kent Koster, Director of the Purchase District Health Department.  “This HIA can serve as a platform to start a conversation on those concerns.” The Health Department conducted a community survey, involving listening circles, to prepare a “Community Health Assessment” that assisted in identifying concerns about individual and community health issues.

“Health should be a priority in every decision our community and economic leaders consider,” shared HIA advisory committee member, Shirley Lanier.  “The Shawnee Fossil Plant HIA works to look at the big picture, blurring the barriers between health and industry.”

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation’s Health Impact Assessment is a timely study. Many of Kentucky’s coal-fired power plants will soon face tough decisions as they attempt to comply with both MATS and forthcoming carbon emissions (111d) regulations. The HIA report acknowledged that even with regulations, coal-fired power plants continue to produce bi-products that affect health. Therefore, this study is an important tool that could help city officials and power companies to consider health as they begin to weigh their options for sources of energy. The report will be presented to TVA, elected officials and impacted community members within the coming month.  
Learn more about KEF’s latest HIA here.


The Kentucky Environmental Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Berea that promotes environmental health and sustainability.  It has used alternatives assessment and community dialogue to identify and promote safe solutions to chemical weapons disposal in central Kentucky, and explores the connection between environmental contamination and illnesses that Kentuckians experience.  The Purchase District Health Department is a public health agency whose goal is to provide health services to local citizens and promote behaviors that will lead to healthy, productive lives.

The HIA was made possible by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts dedicated to promoting the use of health impact assessments in the United States. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Health Impact Project, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or The Pew Charitable Trusts. More information, including a searchable map of HIA activity in the United States, is available at http://www.healthimpactproject.org.

For Immediate Release: July 1, 2013

Community Participation Requested for HIA Listening Circles
Kentucky Environmental Foundation

(Paducah) The Kentucky Environmental Foundation and Purchase District Health Department invite the public to a two-part “listening circle” for Paducah area and McCracken county residents in regard to the potential retrofit or retirement of the Shawnee Fossil Plant. 

The listening circles will take place on Tuesday July 9th and 16th at the Emerging Technology Center in the West Kentucky Community Technical College, Room 141. 

There is no charge for participation, and supper will be provided. To RSVP, contact Deborah Payne at Deborah@kyenvironmentalfoundation.org or call (859) 986-0868.

The purpose of the listening circles is to collect community input on a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on Shawnee, to analyze and make recommendations on ensuring public health protection for either retrofit or retirement.  The HIA process involves collecting data through community dialogue, surveys, and economic/jobs analysis to affect decisions on issues falling outside of the typical health arena. The format of the HIA requires that community feedback be an integral part of the process, resulting in recommendations that directly reflect community stakeholder concerns. 

So far, the HIA process has included an HIA training in early May that involved local community members, health professionals and industry representatives; personal dialogue and surveys with representatives from labor unions, small businesses and contractor companies, physicians, faith leaders and others; and are currently working on a scoping document an literature review.  

Additional background on the HIA process, and activities to date, can be found at: http://www.kyenvironmentalfoundation.org/health-impact-assessments.html.

 Also see the HIA’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/HealthImpactAssessmentOfTheShawneeFossilPlant


For Immediate Release: June 27, 2013

Surprising Beliefs from Conservative Business OwnersPoll Reveals Opposition to Oil Company Subsidies, Support for Renewable Energy Policy

(Washington) A recent poll of small business owners across the United States produced a surprising result: a majority oppose public subsidies for oil, coal, and gas companies, support renewable energy, are concerned about carbon dioxide impacts, and support disclosure of chemicals used in “fracking” for natural gas. The results are detailed in a new report called Small Business Owners’ Views on Energy & Environmental Policy Reform by the American Sustainable Business Council.

Small Businesses and Health Advocates React to the Poll Results

“Renewable energy can support our rural communities and businesses, while promising good, clean work we can be proud of in our community.   It’s common sense that a move to renewable energy will ensure food security and good rural economies. After all, food security is at the heart of an national security goal and any chance that the US can have a competitive edge in the world and be held as a leading voice for small business development here at home,’ explains Michelle Ajamian from Shagbark Seed & Mill, Athens, Ohio.

“The poll results confirm what we have suspected for some time; that even here in coal country there is ever increasing support for healthy buildings and renewable energy sources” said Clive Pohl, of Pohl Rosa Pohl, an architecture firm based in Lexington, Kentucky. “I can say that most of our clients embrace these values at home and beyond, as consumers, by finding and supporting small, like-minded businesses. They seem to understand that the entire community will benefit.”

“The climate impacts from fossil fuel production, coupled with the huge waste of water for projects like unconventional oil extraction, make this kind of energy too costly to our health, our environment, and our economy.” said Martha Dina Arguello of Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles (PSR-LA).  

“It is very clear that climate change is causing major problems, not only in the U.S., but all over the globe. Despite multimillion-dollar advertising efforts to claim that climate change is not a result of human CO2 production, all true scientific efforts to study this effect show that fossil fuel burning is the cause. We need to put a wartime effort into the peacetime project of converting our energy production to renewables immediately. We should have begun this changeover 30 years ago. We are now suffering serious consequences due to the delay. To avoid catastrophic consequences, we must hesitate no longer with moving forward on this,” comments Drake Chamberlin, owner of Athens Electric LLC.

“Here in Arkansas, we know big energy well. We have had hundreds of earthquakes triggered by the disposal of waste from the Natural Gas Industry and we have had one of the countries largest oil pipeline ruptures. These events have occurred virtually back-to-back and leaves Arkansans wondering, is this our future? We have good wholesome families here and they want good wholesome businesses to help pave the way to a bright, healthy future. This poll echoes that desire and showcases how we can get to that future. By putting our best foot forward and working with businesses that want to do the same,” April Lane, Chair of School Health and Safety of Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group and President of Environmental Alliance at the University of Central Arkansas.

Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy Ohio requires clean water for cows to drink, unpolluted soil for pasture, and fresh air for cows and the community to breathe.  None of these are valued by the extractive fracking industry, which is grabbing Ohio’s energy resources and selling them on the world market for the profit of multinational corporations.  Injection wells accepting toxic waste of undisclosed chemicals are a terrible threat to our local business.  Our customers have told us repeatedly that nearby injection wells will be enough to stop them using our products.  Every industry should be responsible to dispose of the waste it produces.  Only the petroleum industry gets away with using our air, soil, and water as a waste disposal site, while enjoying billions in taxpayer paid subsidies, which benefit wealthy investors.  Local businesses benefit their communities without threatening the natural resources essential for the community’s long term health, sustainability, and self sufficiency,” comments Warren TaylorSnowville Creamery, Pomeroy, Ohio.

Denny Larson, with Global Community Monitor  in California, says, “The findings of this poll are exactly what we hear from small business owners in communities affected by air pollution and noise from fracking – it’s not good for our business!  The gas companies have tried to create the opposite impression with their massive advertising campaigns but this scientific poll proves it’s not good for small businesses  “

The ASBC Energy Poll Results also Found:

•      80% support requiring disclosure of chemicals used in fracking.

•      79% support increasing energy efficiency by 50% over the next 10 years.

•      72% think incentives for clean energy are a priority.

•      62% oppose continuing subsidies to oil, gas and coal companies.

•      63% support a national renewable energy standard.

•      63% support new limits on carbon dioxide emissions of power plants“Whether Republican, Democratic or Independent, small business owners understand that the smartest path to a sustainable future for business is to grow a clean energy economy, ” explains Richard Eidlin, Director of Public Policy for ASBC.

For more information, please visit the American Sustainable Business Council’s website. The full report itself can be found here.


For Immediate Release: June 26, 2013

Comments on EPA’s Proposed Approval of Jefferson County SIP Revisions Addressing Emissions During Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction Events

On June 20th, KEF submitted a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of a proposed rule revision that will close regulatory loopholes in Jefferson County concerning vast quantities of pollution emitted from industry during start up, shut down and malfunction of their plants. We applaud Jefferson County for setting forth these long-needed measures to protect the health and welfare of local residents.  The proposed rule will eventually help mitigate the impacts of large pollution events on local communities in Jefferson County, directly improving people’s lives.

For a look at the full letter, click here.


For Immediate Release: May 22, 2013

Senate Compromise on Toxic Chemical Reform Sparks Doubt

May 22–Today, Senators Lautenberg, Gillibrand, Vitter and  more than 10 co-sponsors are announcing the “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013,” that would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. This bill is a compromise bill to the Safe Chemicals Act that was introduced by Senator Lautenberg and 27 co-sponsors, earlier this spring.

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) is one of hundreds of groups nationwide that has been advocating for reform of TSCA in order to protect our children and families from harmful exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment, common household products and other sources. KEF Director Elizabeth Crowe has this to say about the bill announcement today:

“Each day, Kentucky families are exposed to harmful chemicals that are linked to cancer, reproductive disorders, obesity, developmental disabilities and other illnesses.  And many Kentucky parents, health professionals, justice organizations and others have been speaking out in support of strong policy action to reduce these exposures.  Today’s announcement represents the willingness of legislators from both sides of the aisle to take action and for that we are grateful; public health protections should not be a partisan issue.

We are concerned that the bill may come up short on protections for communities suffering from higher concentrations of toxic chemicals, and in setting timelines for action on the most persistent, toxic chemicals.  However as we learn more about the bill ourselves, KEF will continue working with our partner organizations, health professionals, affected communities, business leaders and legislators to make sure public health protection, environmental justice, safer chemical innovation and other values are top priority.”


For Immediate Release: April 10, 2013


Long Overdue Legislation Would Protect Kentucky Families from 
Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

KEF Board Member Dr. Monica Unseld speaks to Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) about the Safe Chemicals Act on Capitol Hill in May 2012

Led by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), 29 U.S. senators today introduced S. 696, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013. This legislation would provide long overdue fixes to the nation’s broken chemical policies and would restrict the use of unsafe, toxic chemicals linked to cancer, developmental disabilities, and numerous other illnesses and medical conditions. 

KEF Board Member Dr. Monica Unseld speaks to Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) about the Safe Chemicals Act on Capitol Hill in May 2012

With toxic chemicals being used in food cans, baby lotions, toys, household cleaners, furniture and thousands of other essential products, the passage of this bill is considered essential by many of the nation’s top public health and environmental groups. The legislation would reform the 37-year-old Toxic Substance Control Act, a bill riddled with loopholes that has allowed harmful chemicals into every corner of our homes.

Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) Director Elizabeth Crowe said, “When toxic chemicals in consumer products we use every day have entered our bodies and are linked to serious diseases—when chemical plant emissions trigger asthma attacks and drive up illness rates—then it is clear that our chemical laws are broken and need to be fixed.”   

Kentuckians across the state are joining with the Kentucky Environmental Foundation in calling on Senator Mitch McConnell to allow the legislation a full and fair hearing in the Senate. 

Harold McDaniel of Paducah is a former chemical industry employee and supports the Safe Chemicals Act. “I’m frustrated by the alarming rates of cancer and other diseases in my hometown,” he says. “I’ve often wondered if these could be related to the sixteen plus chemical plants surrounding Paducah and Calvert City.” McDaniel, a self-identified conservative, credits his political ideology with his support of chemical reform. “The Safe Chemicals Act is what limited government was designed to do—to protect both workers and citizens from the effects of toxic chemicals.”

Dr. Monica Unseld, a biologist from Louisville, says that the bill would have a significant impact in Kentucky communities Rubbertown, an area of her hometown that contains eleven chemical plants and is responsible for 42% of Jefferson County’s air emissions. “Air monitors in the largely African-American neighborhood have found that residents are breathing in at least eighteen toxic chemicals at levels that are often 540 times the amount deemed safe by the EPA. This legislation would require the EPA to identify neighborhoods like Rubbertown that have been most impacted by toxic chemical production over the years, and develop a plan to protect the health of these vulnerable communities.”

Longtime activist Eboni Cochran, director of REACT (Rubbertown Emergency Action), says taking immediate action on the legislation is vital: “Families living on the fencelines of chemical plants can’t wait any longer for Congress to take action. Our kids are suffering from asthma now, and our elders are dying now from illnesses that have links to chemical pollution.”

Senator McConnell in particular, Unseld says, should not dodge or oppose this issue—especially in light of his upcoming reelection campaign. “The health and welfare of families across the Commonwealth and the country has been held in the balance for far too long. The time to act is now.”


For Immediate Release: April 9, 2013

Third Review Conference of the States Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention being held in The Hague, Netherlands this Week

Craig Williams

The Kentucky Co-chair of the Chemical Weapons Destruction Advisory Board, Craig Williams, will be attending the Chemical Weapons Convention meeting this week at the invitation and courtesy of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International and Global Green USA.

This will be the second trip to the international gathering of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by Williams, who attended previously in November 2011. At that time the OPCW reached the critical decision to provide additional time for the U.S. to complete its disposal efforts without sanctions. Kentucky, being the last U.S. site scheduled for completion, is a highly visible participant within the Organization.      

At this week’s meeting, participants will undertake a review of the operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention taking into account any relevant scientific and technological developments: the role of the Chemical Weapons Convention in enhancing international peace and security and in achieving its objectives by ensuring the universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

As part of the Review the current status at the Blue Grass project will be presented by Williams at a special session entitled “Legacy Issues of Chemical Weapon”, chaired by Ambassador Sergey Batsanov, Director, Geneva Office, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.  

“This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to the 188 member nations to the Treaty the community support and cooperative effort between the government, the contractor and the citizenry here in Kentucky,” said Williams.  “It is important that confidence continues to be built internationally on the progress being made here towards our disposal objectives.”

The conference will also include UN Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon speaking on the Syrian situation.

Information on the Conference can be seen at: http://www.opcw.org/documents-reports/conference-states-parties/third-review-conference/ 


For immediate release: April 2, 2013


PADUCAH—The Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) has announced today it will be conducting a health impact assessment (HIA) to look at the potential health impacts of either the retrofit or retirement of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Shawnee Fossil Plant. 

An HIA helps identify and address the likely health benefits and risks of a decision made in a field outside the health sector, in this case how a coal plant’s retrofit (adding pollution controls and other changes or upgrades) would impact the health of community members, compared with retirement of the facility which would cut pollution levels but may have other health consequences.  

Changes in the fossil fuels industry, brought about by many economic and environmental factors, have resulted in the retrofit or retirement of many older coal plants all over the country including in Kentucky.  According to TVA, the Shawnee plant has a production capacity of more than 1,200 MW of electricity.  The facility also releases more than 3 million pounds of toxic chemicals per year into the air, water and land, according to the Toxic Release Inventory.  Coal ash, a byproduct of coal combustion that contains heavy metals, is another concern.  

“We’ll be looking at the impacts of pollution on public health; asthma, heart disease, developmental disorders, but also at the indirect health impacts related to jobs and employment, because of the community’s economic ties to the facility,” said Deborah Payne, Health Coordinator for KEF.  “This HIA can be used as a tool to more clearly define both the facts we need, and the values we hold in order for the community to weigh in on coal plant decisions from the perspective of public health.”   

The Purchase District Health Department (PDHD) will be providing assistance with the community health survey portion of the HIA.  PDHD is based in Paducah and covers Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman, and McCracken counties in western Kentucky.  PDHD Director Kent Koster said, “We want the community health survey process to be open and accessible to the entire community, regardless of what facts, feelings or beliefs people have about the power plant or energy issues in general.”  He added, “It is our hope that when we provide the space for quality conversation, people will be interested and engaged and thinking about the integration of public health in decisions about our community’s future.” 

Components of the HIA will include compilation of data on the health impacts of air and water pollution and pollution reduction options, health surveys and dialogue with community members, and research on the health impacts associated with employment and other economic supports.  The project will wrap up in early 2014, resulting in a report and presentation of recommendations to TVA, elected officials and other community members.  

One of the first steps in the project is to hold an HIA training for community stakeholders and people from other agencies and organizations interested in the methodology.  The event will be held on May 1 -2 in Paducah, and led by leaders of the Georgia State University’s Georgia Health Policy Center, which is serving as the technical adviser for the HIA.  Additional information on this event will be released soon, and community members interested in participating in the training can contact Deborah Payne at (859) 986-0868 or Deborah@kyenvironmentalfoundation.org.

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Berea that promotes environmental health and sustainability.  It has used alternatives assessment and community dialogue to identify and promote safe solutions to chemical weapons disposal in central Kentucky, and explores the connection between environmental contamination and illnesses that Kentuckians experience.  The Purchase District Health Department is a public health agency whose goal is to provide health services to local citizens and promote behaviors that will lead to healthy, productive lives.

The HIA was made possible by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts dedicated to promoting the use of health impact assessments in the United States. More information, including a searchable map of HIA activity in the United States, is available at www.healthimpactproject.org.