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_DSC0841Tim Hupp, 54, lives at 7832 Douglas Avenue in his childhood home and suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

He has been hospitalized 18 times with pneumonia since 2008. His wife Sue has cancer and three of his siblings also died of cancer. The couple moved back into Tim’s childhood home in 2004 after his mother Roberta Hupp also died of COPD. 

All six of them lived in the same house.

COPD is caused by smoking, but exposure to coal dust is also a possible contributing factor. Only some types of cancer — like lung, bladder and colon cancers — have been linked to coal dust exposure, and while Hupp and his wife Sue smoked for a number of years, Tim can’t help but wonder if drinking the water from his well and breathing in coal dust could have contributed to his family’s illnesses.

“I told Steve Perrigo (a We Energies employee) what my family had been through,” Hupp said. “He didn’t know what to say. He was just silent.”

The DNR test results on Hupp’s well in 2006 showed his water was safe to drink. However, Clean Wisconsin tested Hupp’s water in August and they found high levels of lead, magnesium, and aluminum. Despite the findings, it would take further testing to determine where the lead, magnesium and aluminum is actually coming from.

“Coal and coal ash can contain those elements, but it would take a lot more in depth analysis to determine what source the contamination in Tim Hupp’s well comes from,” said Tyson Cook, director of Science and Research, Clean Wisconsin.

Still, Hupp planned to call We Energies to tell him the results of his test to see if they would start buying his water since We Energies tested Hupp’s house last year and found coal dust. Since then they have been pressure washing his house.

“Hopefully they clean it up and take responsibility for what they did,” Hupp said. “There are four sets of trains that sit there all day loading and unloading coal.”

Hupp was unhappy when the DNR allowed We Energies the ability to double the size of its coal pile last week.

“I just can’t believe they are letting them do that,” he said. “More trains are supposed to come in and they are supposed be spraying a glaze on it. Well, I’m going to be checking on that.”




Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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