ORLANDO, Fla. — The fossil fuel burned at OUC’s Stanton Energy Center is mined from the most radioactive coal basin in the United States, a new court filing alleges.

  • Homeowners are suing Orlando Utilities Commission, developers
  • Plantiffs allege property contamination, health problems from coal plant
  • City-owned utility is defending environmental record, safety of facility

In an exhibit filed Monday, attorneys for residents who filed suit in December 2018 against the Orlando Utilities Commission and developers of homes near the 1,800-megawatt Stanton facility allege that coal burned at the plant comes from a basin in Illinois that provides the “highest radioactivity of any coal in the continental United States,” the filing states.

OUC and CSX Transportation inked a 13-year deal in 2014 to haul 2 million tons of coal from this basin, the exhibit says.

“The radioactive emissions produced from the fly ash of a coal-fired power plant are 100 times more than a nuclear power generation of the same energy producing capacity,” the filing states.

A Duke University-led study in 2015 found radioactivity in coal ash could be 10 times higher than in the “parent coal” itself because of the way combustion concentrates radioactivity.

Exposure to radiation can increase the increased risk of cancer in bones, brains, breasts, and thyroids, the filing notes.

“The exposure of a fetus to radiation is referred to as prenatal radiation exposure,” it says. “This can occur when the mother's abdomen is exposed to radiation from outside her body.”

The suit, filed by residents Michelle Irizarry, Valerie Williams, and Joanne Nixon, is on behalf of 30,000 residents in 15,000 housing units in east Orange County. These homes are within a 5.5-mile radius of the plant.

In this area, the cancer incidence ratio for central nervous system cancer is five to 10 times higher than in Orange County and the U.S., the lawsuit alleges.

State inspectors say Stanton’s air emissions meet government standards. The plant’s first unit began operating in 1987. The second unit went online in 1996.

The plant uses “low-sulfur, low-ash coal and operates state-of-the-art pollution control equipment to remove pollutants,” OUC’s website says. “Air sampling has shown that Stanton’s emissions are among the lowest of any coal-fired plant in the nation.”