Monday, January 5, 2009

Dirty, Dirty Coal

The Tennesse Valley Authority tried to calm residents near the Kingston Fossil Plant ash spill, saying that the water wasn't dangerous. Reminds you of the EPA saying that the area around Ground 0 wasn't toxic!

Some members of Appalachian Voices and Waterkeeper Alliance's Upper Watauga Riverkeeper Program decided that this was not something they wanted to trust TVA with, so they took their own samples and had them tested at the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry labs at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, by Dr. Shea Tuberty, Associate Professor of Biology, and Dr. Carol Babyak, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, who you can see in the video.

Concentrations of eight toxic chemicals range from twice to 300 times higher than drinking water limits, according to scientists with Appalachian State University who conducted the tests.

"Although these results are preliminary, we want to release them because of the public health concern and because we believe the TVA and EPA aren't being candid," said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chair of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

You can read more at, and access the preliminary report on the same page.

No matter how you treat the CO2 that comes from burning coal, there are so many other aspects of coal that some people are just ignoring, like mountaintop removal, poor working conditions, polluted streams, and the dangers of retention pools, both for the ground water, and for accidents like this one in Tennessee and earlier ones in Kentucky and elsewhere, where entire villages have been wiped out by spills.

There is NO WAY to make coal energy clean. Our goal now is to ensure that no new coal-fired plants are built, and to make sure that existing ones can be phased out ASAP. This is possible by coordinating two different methods:

  • hastening the use of renewables, like solar, wind, geothermal, some biofuels (algae) and new minimally invasive hydro-power systems.
  • learning how to conserve energy - and that means me and you! Turn off lights, insulate, install a programmable thermostat, purchase Energy Star appliances, including light-bulbs, TVs and refrigerators for starters. (No plasma TV, please! LCD is much more energy efficient!) The current Time Magazine has a cover article Wasting Our Watts with everything you need to know about efficiency. The good thing is that you will save a lot of money on energy costs, and some states have rebates for energy conserving products.

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