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Historic ranch neighboring power plant raises concerns

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JOURDANTON, Texas - A ranch south of San Antonio that sells beef to stores like H-E-B is in a legal battle with their next door neighbor.

Owners of the Peeler Ranch said contaminated water from the San Miguel Power Plant is destroying their land.

The Peelers said it's turning up to a third of their property into a wasteland and the power plant wants to take over land they don't want to sell.

Jason Peeler said it's a result of coal ash in groundwater leaking from the San Miguel Power Plant's retention ponds.

Numbers obtained last year by the Environmental Integrity Project show San Miguel's groundwater was the most dangerous in the state.

The levels of arsenic, boron, and lithium far exceed EPA drinking water standards.

"It's sad you know you kind of lost it," Peeler said. "It's kind of like losing a member of your family, it's something that's been around for five generations."

San Miguel sent us the following statement, in part it reads. "The evidence will show that San Miguel's actions have been done pursuant to valid permits and pose no threat to human health or the environment." And. "We continue to operate as a good neighbor and careful steward of the land."

"Bit of an insult," Peeler said.

Jason's father initially sold part of their property to San Miguel in the 1970's.

Since then, the power plant has leased other parts of the land to expand.

"It became obvious, especially with their threat of condemnation, that they don't intend on cleaning it up," Peeler said.

During a back-and-forth legal battle to get San Miguel off the lease.

The power plant has taken steps to seize up to a third of the Peeler Ranch through eminent domain.

"Contractually we let them in," Peeler said. "It's weird, they said they were going to clean it up, and when we press them on it years later, they don't they just take it."

The EPA requires San Miguel to do additional testing on their ground water which could lead to the government forcing the power plant to clean up.

But it's a process that could take years.

It's time, that Peeler doesn't have as he continues to fight for his land in the court room.


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To visit an interactive map of coal ash across the country, click here.

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