Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Energy at Any Price : Clean Coal?

Photograph from NY Times December 29, 2008

The recent environmental disaster at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee proves that, in addition to global warming from burning coal and the desecration of the land that is part and parcel of coal mining, coal plants may represent another major danger to our drinking water.

On December 22, 1.1 billion gallons of coal fly ash slurry, a mixture of the ash and water, breached the dam at the Kingston Fossil Plant. Traveling downhill, the slurry was deposited up to six feet deep on the surrounding land.

This spill, the largest coal slurry spill in U.S. history, and the amount released was more than 50 times larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. While destroying homes and polluting waterways, the slurry also contaminated ground water.

At Plant in Coal Ash Spill, Toxic Deposits by the Ton - - Read

The inventory, disclosed by the Tennessee Valley Authority on Monday at the request of The New York Times, showed that in just one year, the plant’s byproducts included 45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems.

What if this was your home in the picture? What happens to the water supplies in this area? Do you think this would be a good place to raise children? Horses? Chickens?

Would you be surprised to know that the TVA waited a week after the spill to issue a statement of any type, recommending that direct contact with the ash be avoided and that pets and children should stay away from the sludge?

Want more information about the dangers of coal?

Take a look at these posts:

Truth in advertising : Clean Coal

Restore and Strengthen Stream Barriers


Christian said...

The notion of clean coal is somewhat of a myth anyway. In Europe, there is currently a big push underway by the nuclear industry to brand nuclear energy as CO2-neutral. Greenwashing at its best...

CyberCelt said...

@Christian-Oh, yeah. Clean coal and safe nuclear energy. Except for those pesky heavy metals in the water supplies from coal and the half-life of depleted uranium. What a legacy we leave to our great-great-great-great grandchildren.

Christian said...

So true, unfortunately. In East Germany - before the fall of the Berlin Wall - almost the entire country depended on coal energy and there was extensive coal mining. Now, 20 years later, large areas of the environment are still totally ruined. Fortunately, a lot has changed since then and renewable energy technology is on the rise here. Sadly, nuclear energy might have a comeback as well - but the (political) jury is still out on that issue.

CyberCelt said...

@Christian-What about wind, solar or geothermal power? I know they are getting into wave action generators in Ireland and Wales.

Lyndi said...

Just checking in so that you know that it does pay to post your articles on CMF’s post of the week. Boy, your article has not made the decision any easier this week.


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