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Oak Creek Air Monitor

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In response to coal dust covering neighborhoods in Oak Creek, the Clean Power Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin is raising money for an independent air monitor and other coal dust testing in Oak Creek and Caledonia to hold We Energies accountable for the coal pollution.

For the past several months, on many occasions, coal dust has been found covering  homes, properties, and playgrounds in neighborhoods north of the coal plants in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

These coal plants supply power to a number of communities across Wisconsin, including Madison and Milwaukee. Breathing in coal dust has been linked to numerous respiratory and cardiac health issues. We Energies, the primary utility owner and operator of the plants, claims to be taking steps to address the issue. However, they continue to downplay the health impacts and magnitude of the problem.

Oak Creek residents deserve to know the truth about what is in the air from an independent monitor.  They can’t wait for We Energies and can no longer trust them or the data found by the company doing the polluting. Money raised through this campaign will go to the Clean Power Coalition, a grassroots group, to purchase a portable air monitor and pay for other costs associated with independent air monitoring and coal dust testing.

Coal dust contaminates Oak Creek air

For over a decade, residents near the coal plants in Oak Creek have been raising concerns about numerous pollution issues, including dust from uncovered coal trains and the massive coal pile on We Energies property contaminating the air in surrounding communities. Recently, We Energies built a new coal pile approximately 2200 feet from the Barton Oaks neighborhood and about a mile away from Deerfield Elementary School in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The pile was completed in late 2017.

Throughout the spring, residents in this neighborhood have been finding coal dust covering their homes, yards, cars, and even the slide at the local playground. This dust is also present in the air.

On March 5th, the coal dust was particularly visible, and dust samples were tested proving that the substance was indeed coal. However, We Energies continues to refer to the ongoing coal dust contamination as an isolated incident. They also claim that the coal dust does not cause health problems.

Studies have shown that breathing in fine particulate matter, such as coal dust, can contribute to short-term and long-term respiratory ailments. Moreover, coal dust contains trace amounts of toxic and carcinogenic heavy metals, including arsenic, mercury, and lead. There is no known safe level of exposure to these elements. Residents have continued to raise concerns to We Energies, the local health department, and the DNR, but have been told they need concrete data measuring particulates in the air to prove their claims.

Currently, the only air monitor in the area is owned and operated by We Energies, and it is placed upwind of the coal pile and trains, so it is not capturing the coal dust affecting the Barton Oaks neighborhood. After initially refusing, We Energies now plans to add another monitor closer to the neighborhood, but it will not be in place until the end of the summer, and it will still be operated by the company doing the polluting.   We can’t trust the fox to guard the hen house. Thus, the Clean Power Coalition is raising money for an independent air monitor and other coal dust testing in Oak Creek to hold We Energies accountable for coal pollution.

How will the crowdfunding money be spent?

Our goal is to raise enough money to purchase portable air monitoring units to determine levels of particulate pollution in the air. Final determinations for how the money is spent will be made in consultation with affected community members and depends on how much is raised. We are looking at PurpleAir Monitors, which are low-cost monitors that have been used successfully in other locations to identify high levels of localized air pollution.

Thank you for your consideration.


The Clean Power Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin

Selected Media

TMJ4 March 8 / CBS58 March 26 / CBS58 March 21 / CBS58 March 29 / Journal Sentinel March 13 / WISN April 4 / CBS 58 / Midwest Energy News April 3 


  • Keith Kohlmann
    • $10 
    • 6 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Clean Power Coalition
Oak Creek, WI
Robert Beezat

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