Dominican Republic town blames U.S. firm for birth defects

A civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in Delaware charges that toxic levels of waste dumped at the Arroyo Barril port has made people nearby sick. After years of repeated miscarriages, women whose blood levels show abnormal levels of arsenic are giving birth to babies with cranial deformities, with organs outside their bodies or missing limbs.

The ash, a concentrated form of naturally occurring contaminants, is what is left over from burning coal for power. It usually contains arsenic, lead, cadmium, chromium and nickel. But as towns in Tennessee and Maryland clean up massive spills of the substance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to rule on whether it should be classified as hazardous -- which would be a tremendous blow to influential power companies that have long lobbied against such a classification.

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