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Oak Creek residents demand changes from We Energies after coal dust discovery in neighborhood

OAK CREEK, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Earlier this week, neighbors in Oak Creek found layers of dust across their neighborhood.

They say it's coming from the nearby We Energies coal pile and now, they are demanding changes.

"It's frustrating," Oak Creek resident Frank Michna said. "Everybody has had our house tested. Coal has been found everywhere on our property, on our cars, in our houses. We're breathing it. My whole family has respiratory ailments."  

Outfitted in gas masks and holding signs with strong messages, a group of Oak Creek residents released the results of an independent test Thursday that revealed coal dust.

They say they're fed up with finding it layered across their neighborhood and it's coming from a coal pile by a We Energies plant.

"We discovered coal in the yard," Oak Creek resident Greg Millard said. "The lady across the street talked to me. I went over and looked and they had coal."

We Energies Executive Vice-President Tom Metcalfe says the company's policy is to stop operation on the coal pile when winds exceed 25 miles per hour, but on Monday the weather changed quickly.

"They were blowing from the Southeast and as the day progressed the winds got above 25 miles per hour and we stopped work," Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe says while the coal is a nuisance, people shouldn't be alarmed.

"We don't believe that this incidence is any cause for concern based on advice we've received from a health expert," Metcalfe said. "There's no health impacts to the community."

We Energies no longer monitors the air quality in the area, but Metcalfe says they are looking into their protocols and may make changes based on Monday's incident.

He says if coal dust is found at someone's home or property they will wash it off. 

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