Utility wants new limit to release mercury in Lake Michigan

A utility company wants to be able to release a greater amount of mercury into Lake Michigan from its coal-burning plant in suburban Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that more than 100 people opposed We Energies’ permit request at a recent public hearing held by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Milwaukee-based utility’s proposal would allow We Energies to dispose up to 4.1 parts per trillion of mercury into Lake Michigan on any day. It’s about three times more than the 1.3 parts per trillion threshold that’s considered safe for wildlife.

We Energies spokesman Brendan Conway says the new limits wouldn’t pose a health risk to humans or wildlife. Conway says the mercury variance is allowed by the department and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.