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_DSC0849Frank Michna, 64, lives at 7755 Michna Road, less than a ½ mile away from the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant.

His family had a homestead in the area in the mid-1800s, and he has lived all of his life on Michna Road with most of his family. About seven or eight years ago he developed asthma, upper respiratory infections and pneumonia. His wife and stepdaughter have also developed asthma, he said.

Michna’s two sisters also have asthma and breathing problems and live on Michna Road.

“Our dad died of complications from a stroke and he smoked, so none of kids smoked … none of us,” he said.

Michna has a blue-beige film that covers his house, and he first discovered it when he wanted to pressure wash his house in order to paint it. The DNR also tested his well in 2010 when a number of neighbors started to find molybdenum after they had their wells tested. The tests on Michna’s house showed high levels of boron, which is known to leach out of fly ash, Michna said.

We Energies knows about his case indirectly because he’s part of the group negotiating with them. Part of the challenge for Michna and other neighbors is that no one knows where to turn when they have problems.

“Nobody knows really who to call when it comes to reporting this stuff,” he said.

But We Energies spokesperson Brian Manthey said they have been very responsive to neighbors concerns and they pointed to how they buy bottled water for the neighbors with contaminated wells, have offered to buy nearby houses when neighbors have put them up for sale, and pressure washed homes that have tested positive to coal dust.

“Residents with any concerns regarding our facilities can contact us and we will investigate those concerns,” Manthey said. “Previously, the only health issue brought forward to us was from Mr. (Bill) Pringle. We tested his home and other public areas around his home and found no evidence of coal dust. We recently have been made aware of some health concerns raised by neighbors and are currently looking into this matter.”

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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