Friday, February 29, 2008

"Clean Coal" is Dirty Coal

From today's Myrtle Beach Sun News (Mountaintop removal mining is also "beloved" by Santee Cooper -- it gets all of its coal from this practice):

Coal mining disastrous for residents, land

By June Jordan

We are told that the newest technology of low-emissions coal plants will be a benefit. Cleaner coal from the power plant doesn't start there. Many are not aware that when they flip that electric switch the average modern home burns the equivalent of 6 tons of coal a year through air conditioning, lights and an array of ever increasing appliances, but they do not give a thought to the people who are exploited every day so we may enjoy this luxury.

In order for us to have this inexpensive energy source, the mining companies have destroyed over 500,000 acres of beautiful old mountain forests in Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. To date, mountaintop mining has destroyed 450 mountains. The mountains are clear cut then 1,000 vertical feet blasted off and the resulting debris scraped into the adjacent river valleys burying and polluting 1,200 miles of streams.

The solid and liquid waste by-product of coal mining is stored in coal slurry impoundments. These impoundments can be hundreds of feet high and sometimes are close to schools or residences. Some exceed 500 million gallons in volume, but can be larger than 7 billion gallons. There are approximately 1,000 of these impoundments tucked away in the mountains of Central Appalachia. The most controversial sludge dam sits above Marsh Fork Elementary School in Sundial, W.Va. The school is 400 yards downslope from one of West Virginia's largest impoundments containing 2.8 billion gallons of coal sludge. Would we want to live here and send our children to this school every day? Residents in these areas can no longer use the water from their faucets. They have to haul their daily water supply in plastic jugs from a water tank truck to their homes.

In 1972, 132 million gallons of sludge rushed through the narrow Buffalo Creek hollow in West Virginia killing 125 people and leaving 4,000 homeless. There have been many sludge disasters including Martin County, Ky., when in October 2000, an impoundment broke propelling 306 million gallons of sludge down two tributaries. Another break sent ooze downstream where it eventually emptied into the Ohio River near Ashland, Ky., affecting over 70 miles of waterway. Communities on the Kentucky and West Virginia water supplies were shut down and private water wells were ruined.

Mountaintop mining is beloved by mining moguls because the need for human labor is nearly eliminated and therefore increases industry profits.

No amount of clean coal as an end product can justify the exploitation of the people who live in this once-beautiful region but are powerless and poor.

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.

4 comments:

South Carolinians Against Lung Cancer said...

Thank you for bringing awareness of clean energy to South Carolina.

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