Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Coal: Cheap (and nasty!)

On the continuing theme of cheap coal, and the many reasons it isn't cheap.

This news from the US.

HARRIMAN, Tenn. — Millions of yards of ashy sludge broke through a dike at TVA's Kingston coal-fired plant Monday, covering hundreds of acres, knocking one home off its foundation and putting environmentalists on edge about toxic chemicals that may be seeping into the ground and flowing downriver.

One neighboring family said the disaster was no surprise because they have watched the 1960s-era ash pond's mini-blowouts off and on for years.
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About 2.6 million cubic yards of slurry — enough to fill 798 Olympic-size swimming pools — rolled out of the pond Monday, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cleanup will take at least several weeks, or, in a worst-case scenario, years.


More via itsgettinghotinhere.

This is “Clean Coal”: Massive Coal Sludge Spill Dwarfs Exxon Valdez Disaster.

Let’s see how the “clean coal” PR hucksters at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity try to spin this tragic news: a retention pond holding toxic coal ash slurry burst Monday in Roane County, Tennessee, releasing over half a billion gallons of potentially toxic sludge that swept into the nearby town of Harriman and contaminated tributaries of the Tennessee River. The resulting flood damaged 15 homes, injured one man as it knocked his house off its foundations, and has left over 400 acres of land covered by several feet of coal ash, mud and contaminated water (see video below).

Coal ash and slurry is the normal byproduct of coal-fired electricity generating, and is usually stored in giant retaining ponds near coal plants. The resulting coal slurry is frequently contaminated by heavy metals, mercury and arsenic.

Yesterday’s tragedy struck at the coal ash impoundment associated with the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal-fired steam plant and released about 2.6 million cubic yards of slurry, the Tennessean reports. That’s enough to fill nearly 800 Olympic-sized swimming pools, and is over 40 times more contaminated sludge than the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill.


The video bellow shows how big this really is. Check out this post for great coverage.



[Update 1: Now front page of the New York Times!]
[Update2 : bloomberg has followed up the question of the true cost of coal power]

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