The fence, officials said, was put in place to slow winds down. (Scott Anderson, Patch Staff)

OAK CREEK, WI — Officials with WE Energies says it will only be a matter of days before repairs are complete on several panels of fencing that had fallen last week due to storms and high winds that moved through the area.

The fence, officials said, was put in place to slow winds down, effectively limiting the wind power that could blow coal dust into area neighborhoods.

“The good news is that because of what happened, [there is] zero impact to any of the coal piles there. We obviously understand neighbors’ concerns. We’re incredibly sensitive to them, but the good news is — and everyone should be aware of — there is no evidence at all that any coal dust has left that site since nearly two years ago,” We Energies spokesperson Brendan Conway said in a CBS 58 report.

The utility’s position on the presence of coal dust inside and outside neighbors’ homes has been a bone of contention for more than 10 years.

The utility has power washed homes and cars, done coal testing inside and outside homes, and gone as far as buying homes around the plant to create a buffer zone around the plant.

But not curbed production of coal around the plant.

Oak Creek and Caledonia residents who live near, or downwind of the plant, say coal dust is the source of respiratory and other health issues they have suffered over the years.

The utility denies that coal dust is the culprit.

“I’m not aware of anybody in our local that has a chronic respiratory issue that is working at the power plant,” a WE Energies spokesperson said during a 2018 community meeting. “The coal is dirty. Absolutely. It’s hard to get out of your laundry? Absolutely. As far as it being a respiratory issue. I’m not aware of that.”

Still, a number of neighbors have voiced their concerns and a number of them have joined the Clean Power Coalition. And many neighbors still want to move.

The Racine County Eye Contributed To This Report


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