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Dominican Republic Town Blames U.S. Firm for Birth Defects

Several individuals residing in the province of Samaná in the Dominican Republic blame a U.S. power company for an increase in birth defects throughout the small town. Six years ago a contractor from Delray Beach brought over 50,000 tons of coal ash from a Virginia-based Applied Energy Services Corporation to a port near the town to dispose of the waste and allowed it to remain there for over two years.  The upset citizens of Samaná filed a civil lawsuit on November 4, 2009 claiming that the toxic waste dumped near Samaná has made people sick, caused repeated miscarriages, and has lead to the birth of babies with deformed skulls or missing limbs. If the energy company loses the lawsuit, they will have to compensate seven clients and pay for medical monitoring for the whole town.  This case sparks debate over coal ash, the byproduct of coal energy, which contains a concentration of naturally occurring contaminants.  This ash, the remnants of burnt coal used to generate power, is currently unregulated yet contains toxic contaminants such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, chromium, and nickel.  The Environmental Protection Agency is ready to rule on the classification of coal ash, which will greatly affect the processes in many power companies if it is determined to be hazardous.


Robles, Frances. “Dominican Republic town blames U.S. firm for birth defects.”

Miami Herald. N.p., 5 Nov. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.

Student Researchers: Jillian Harbin & Abbey Wilson

Faculty Instructor: Kevin Howley, Associate Professor of Media Studies, DePauw University

Evaluator: Tim Cope, Department of Geosciences, DePauw University

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