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Mercury is released into the air by burning coal at power plants and cement plants. It settles in waterways, and accumulates in fish and shellfish as methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin. Eating fish is the most common way humans are exposed. State health officers have issued statewide advisories about consuming certain species of fish because they contain high levels of mercury. The company's application says it would release as much as 263 pounds of mercury a year. Using new data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency, the analysis by Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project also found "mercury accounting gaps" that raise questions about whether cement companies properly report pollutants from their plants. Cement plants are among the worst mercury polluters of any kind in the country, said Eric Schaeffer, a former EPA director and founder of the Environmental Integrity Project. Mercury emissions land in waterways and begin their trek up the food chain, building up in fish and people who eat them. Money and jobs doesn't trump food and health, or does it?

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