East Texans raise health concerns after possible exposure to toxic power plant emissions

Local News

TATUM, Texas (KETK) – Some East Texas are questioning the quality of air after possible exposure from a local power plant.

Paulette Goree is a native of East Texas. She grew up in Beckville, not far from the Martin Lake Power Plant.

She and her husband are now retired and trying to enjoy some well-deserved relaxation and fun.

“We just like to enjoy being outside, we like to go to the lake, but all of that is limited a lot of times by the quality of air we have,” said Goree.

The Sierra Club, an environmental organization, says the air quality is a much bigger problem than most residents know.

“It is the source of what’s called a non-attainment area or an area that doesn’t comply with the public health standard,” said Chrissy Mann with the Sierra Club.

The plant was designated as just that under the 2016 Clean Air Act by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Emissions have gone up, they’ve doubled since 2016, so the emissions that they had last year, literally over twice that than they had in the year they were found to be not complying with the public health standard,” said Mann.

With the emissions increasing, Goree recalls the past and has even more concern about the future.

“I did lose a sister to COPD, my father had respiratory problems and they all lived in this area and you hear that all the time and you can’t help but think about that,” said Goree.

Now, the Sierra Club has put the EPA on notice and they plan to sue the agency if they don’t see change very soon.

“We know about it and we would like you to start complying with the Clean Air Act and make sure that the state of Texas puts together a plan to clean up that pollution,” said Mann.

The Sierra Club says the EPA has responded by trying to change the designation on the plant. Mann says the effort put in by the EPA to avoid fixing the issues could be better spent by enforcing their own regulations on the East Texas plant. Goree hopes to see change and progress, not only for her but for future generations.

“It’s too late for me,” said Goree. “I’ve already got breathing issues, my husband already has breathing issues, it’s too late for us, but we want it to be better for our children.”

You can look up the reports for Rusk County emissions HERE.

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