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Moapa Paiutes point to power plant for health problems

Reported by: Reed Cowan
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Updated: 7/10/2012 6:33 am
MOAPA (KSNV MyNews3) -- It is a David vs. Goliath fight. Fewer than 400 Moapa Paiutes are taking on NV Energy, trying to shut down the Reid Gardner Coal Plant.

The Paiutes claim the plant is slowly killing them.

Here's the bottom line: Southern Nevada residents pay for electricity made at Reid Gardner with money. Moapa Paiutes say they pay for it with their lives.
Coming Tuesday on News 3 at 5: News 3 will present NV Energy's uninterrupted point of view. Company officials say Moapa Paiutes are only hearing what they want to hear and aren't telling the whole story.

Vickie Simmons said she believes the old Moapa Indian Cemetery is full of people who died from exposure to what she calls poison air since the Reid Gardner Coal Plant fired up in 1965 within walking distance to her home.

They believe the coal ash produced by Reid Gardner's burners has poisoned their water, their land and the air in and out of their homes.


NV Energy says fly ash contains arsenic, lead and other metals but says they are "technically not toxic" and not hazardous. Others say those elements can be toxic.

Tribal member Ural Begay says his neighbor's health conditions prove the air is toxic.

One of Begay's neighbors, Russell Samson, lives in the house closest to Reid Gardner's stacks. Samson's breathing is clearly difficult.

The Sierra Club of Nevada is cataloging stories like Samson’s, collecting photographs taken near Samson's home on days when the Sierra Club says emissions choke the health right out of Moapa air.

Stories like these getting the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency, listening closely to hearings held on the Moapa Reservation.

Tribal Environmental Director Darren Daboda says the commonality of symptoms tells the story.

NV Energy continues to tell tribal members the air is safe because of $80 million retrofits and that NV Energy is a "good neighbor."

Tribal members feel NV Energy is simply running out the clock
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