Becca Schimmel

Becca Schimmel is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in psychology and she will be graduating in December. She was born in South Carolina but grew up in Lexington, Ky. She is a UK basketball fan. She enjoys swimming, coffee, reading and drinking more coffee. Becca has served as copy editor for the Murray State News and has interned with the Paducah Sun.

Kentucky is coal country, and is heavily reliant on the dirty fossil fuel for power. A study underway at Western Kentucky University is examining the effectiveness of a water-based clean coal solution.

The coal is treated with the solution at Big Rivers power plant in Ohio County, Kentucky. WKU partnered with Big Rivers and the state’s Cabinet for Economic Development to determine if the solution reduces carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen emissions.

Researchers at WKU are taking an enzyme from a mushroom and growing it in water. That solution is then sprayed on coal as it falls down a chute. The coal then sits for a few days before it’s burned.


A new report shows Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana are among seven states with twice the national rate of Hepatitis C cases.

The Centers for Disease Control reported new cases of Hep C have increased nationwide by nearly 300 percent from 2010 to 2015. Hepatitis C is still associated with more deaths than 60 other diseases.

According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the state had the highest rate of new acute Hepatitis C infections from 2008 to 2015, with more than 1,000 cases. The CDC report said intravenous drug use is the primary risk factor for new infections.

A new study gave Kentucky poor marks for the safety of its drinking water.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says the commonwealth has the tenth-highest number of offenses per capita

Violations ranged from high levels of arsenic and nitrates to failure to test or properly report contamination levels. The Courier Journal reported no other state in the nation had a larger percent of its population getting its water from utilities with at least one violation. The study was based on safe drinking water act violations, and the number of customers served by those utilities.

Indiana was twenty-second in total water quality offenses per capita, while Tennessee ranked twenty-third.

Retired miners will not lose their health benefits, as had been feared, thanks to last-minute action from Congress. However, Congress did not act on the miners’ faltering pension benefits fund, which supports some 43,000 retired miners in the Ohio Valley region.

Alexandra Kanik - Ohio Valley ReSource

The chemical weapons used in last week’s attack in Syria are the same type stored and scheduled for destruction in Madison County, Kentucky.

The sarin that’s stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot near Richmond will be destroyed starting in 2020. The job will be completed in three years, barring any delays. Craig Williams, with The Kentucky Environmental Foundation Chemical Weapons Working Group, said while the chemical weapons used in Syria didn’t come from the Bluegrass Army Depot, they’re the same as those scheduled to be destroyed.

“Somewhat depressing to know that Syrian people have been affected by these materials. Particularly since Syria recently signed onto the treaty banning such use,” Williams said.

A bipartisan group of legislators has asked President Donald Trump to make more money available for black lung health clinics as they face an increase in cases of the disease among coal miners.  

More than 20 clinics would benefit from the $3.3 million increase lawmakers are requesting. The clinics provide miners with health screenings, medical care, and assistance in securing black lung benefits.

The lawmakers wrote in a letter to the president and the White House budget director that the level of funding for clinics has been frozen for the past five years.  

The removal of a dam along the Green River in Edmonson County began Tuesday, and will continue over the next few weeks.

Once the dam is removed, the affected part of the Green River will become a recreational area, with parking and access ramps for canoes and kayaks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is funding the project, but will transfer ownership of 18 nearby acres of land to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Lee Andrews, with The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the Green River contains some of the top biodiversity within the Ohio River system.

 

“So being able to restore this much river in a national park is unique,” Andrews said.  

Attorney General Andy Beshear is speaking out against Kentucky’s new right-to-work law.