QUESTION: After reading the article on coal ash pollutants in groundwater in East Texas, I worry about my well water. I live on a country road in Hallsville and use well water for making coffee and for bathing. I also use my well water to supply my pets with drinking water. Should I be concerned? I wonder if anything is being done to remedy the problem?

ANSWER: Perhaps you saw the article the News-Journal ran about this very subject earlier this week and which is related to the article we published in January about a report that showed groundwater near all of Texas’ 16 monitored coal-fired power plants contained pollutants associated with the disposal of coal waste, or coal ash. Those plants included the Pirkey Power Plant near Hallsville and three others in Northeast Texas.

The report exists, by the way, because of federal rules requiring power plants to conduct monitoring and testing at those plants and to take steps to correct issues that monitoring discovers. You can read more about what has been found at Pirkey Power Plant and what AEP Southwestern Electric Power Co. is doing about it at, but, for example, the website says:

“SWEPCO will stop placing material in the bottom ash ponds as soon as we have a storage alternative. We then will begin closure activities.

“SWEPCO also will develop mitigation plans to address the groundwater impacts of the ash ponds and landfill. We will seek public input before making a final decision as to what measures we will take to mitigate groundwater impacts.”

The article earlier this week discussed how SWEPCO, in addition to the required testing at wells on the power plant property, had conducted testing of private wells within 1 mile of the plant, provided drinking water as requested to homeowners associated with the wells and taken steps to provide some of them with permanent alternatives for drinking water.

SWEPCO spokesman Peter Main said his company will continue to monitor the groundwater at the plant as required by rules from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We have no reason to believe there are impacts to groundwater beyond our plant site,” he said. “We reached out to those well owners within a mile of the plant and provided that testing as part of our outreach.”

He also said the company does not plan to conduct any additional testing outside the plant beyond the private wells it’s already tested.

Q: Where do I find decals for our state champs? Also Lobo yard pennants?

A: The best Answer Line can do is tell you who is licensed to use the Lobos’ Rockin’ L logo. (Y’all might recall that this became an issue as the Longview Lobos made their way to the state football championship and people began selling Lobo gear. It resulted in the district cleaning up its process for authorizing vendors to use the logo.)

First, Longview ISD booster clubs and student and parent organizations are authorized to use the logo. So, if you go to www.lobos , for instance, you’ll find a place to purchase some Lobo gear to the benefit of the football booster club and, therefore, the football players.

Beyond that, the district reports that two companies are separately licensed to use the Rockin’ L logo to make and sell products through their businesses: Precision Laser Craft and Print Monkey.

Q: What is mincemeat? Does it have meat in it?

A: I found conflicting definitions for mincemeat, so I turned to an expert: chef Brendan Walsh, dean of the School of Culinary Arts at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

Mincemeat is basically a chopped mixture of fruit, spices and nuts, for instance. Walsh said mincemeat was traditionally made with beef suet or beef fat.

“Originally a dish made by the poorer folk, there are no pieces of meat in mincemeat. But, the idea was for the beef suet to combine with nuts and fruits to try to mimic the flavor and texture of meat, without the cost of actual meat,” Walsh said through a school representative.

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.