Friday, January 9, 2009

Dirty coal keeps flowing

I always thought that coal was hard rock, like we got in the bottom of our stocking when I was a wee child before we moved to a new house with an oil-burning furnace (Dad and Grandpa both worked for Esso Refineries in NJ at the time.) There are also those who think that liquid coal is the future - part of the so-called "clean" coal myth.

Coal flows, but it isn't clean, as we saw in Tennessee at Christmas, and now in Alabama, where the retaining pond at another TVA plant at Widows Creek was reported overflowing at 10:15 am Central Time today, which you can read here: Second TVA spill reported in Alabama.

Scott Hughes, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management said, "The only thing we've got right now is that there was a release from a gypsum treatment operation." "We do understand that some of the material has reached Widows Creek."

The creek from which TVA's coal burning plant gets its name, crosses the plant property. Gypsum is one of the byproducts when special filters capture and treat ash. It can be sold for use in wallboard, but markets have been slow and it like more standard ash can build up in waste ponds."We're in the process of gathering more info and getting a full report."

The Widows Creek Fossil Plant is located on Guntersville Reservoir on the Tennessee River. It has eight coal-fired units and was completed in 1965. The plant consumes about 10,000 tons of coal a day. The ash from that coal was in the pond that broke there.

Yahoo news reports today that Toxic coal ash piling up in ponds in 32 states.

An Associated Press analysis of the most recent Energy Department data found that 156 coal-fired power plants store ash in surface ponds similar to the one that collapsed last month in Tennessee. Records indicate that states storing the most coal ash in ponds are Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama.

The man-made lagoons hold a mixture of the noncombustible ingredients of coal and the ash trapped by equipment designed to reduce air pollution from the power plants. Over the years, the volume of waste has grown as demand for electricity increased and the federal government clamped down on emissions from power plants.

So lets help those people downriver from the lagoons in Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama, and Just Say No to Coal!

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