Doctor Believes Power Plant Makes Kids Sick

He is trying to find people plagued by illness so he can sue Gulf Power and hold it accountable for what he calls deadly emissions.

Dr. Ronald Saff treats patients with asthma and says he's treated several children in crisis upon their return from Pensacola.

"These poor kids come back with asthma attacks. They're coughing, they're wheezing, they're short of breath, they're having chest tightness and I have to treat them in the office," he says.

Saff points the finger of blame at the Crist Power Plant in Escambia County, and this week he placed in ad in the paper there asking people within 20 miles of the coal fired plant to send him their medical records in hopes of finding plaintiffs for a lawsuit.

Ronald says, "What I'm saying is that we should hold power plants legally responsible in much the same way as the tobacco industry has been held legally responsible for health costs that they've incurred."

A spokeswoman for Gulf Power says she's seen the ad. She counters that the Crist plant is not the target of any current lawsuits. It's well within federal and state emissions guidelines and she points to EPA and Harvard University studies that conclude power plant emissions' risk to public health is minimal.

Dr. Saff says that's the rub; it's all legal.

"These companies are polluting the air, but they're doing it in a legal fashion. Now, that doesn't help the poor guy who lives near the plant and has gotten a heart attack or asthma attack."

Gulf Power is critical of Dr. Saff's ties to the Florida Public Interest Research Group. The doctor readily admits the affiliation, but says it doesn't make his point any less valid.