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Clean Coal? An ashy conundrum

December 24th, 2008 · No Comments

The “Clean Coal” fantasy has a myriad of angles to consider. Whether we’re discussing mercury and tuna (and limitations on feeding children canned tuna fish), CO2 emissions and global warming, the atrocity of mountain-top removal, the diesel burnt in moving coal from mine to electricity plant, black lung disease, the poverty of mining regions, and so many other issues, the advertising of “clean coal” has so many disparate falsehoods that it is hard to keep track of which dishonesty is on the top of the pile at any given moment.

Considering the recent ‘clean coal’ Christmas caroling, Christmas Eve events in Tennessee remind us of another element of reality, the remnants after the burning, that pesky little out-of-sight, out-of-mind “fly ash” building up massively around the globe as the burning of coal continues to mount. While fly ash continues a myriad of pollutants (mercury, uranium, etc), it actually gets dirtier along with efforts to clean smokestack emissions. The better the filtering of the smokestack, the more dangerous materials residing in the fly ash.

One of the reckless realities of the Bush malfeasance has been eight years of ever weaker oversight and inspection of the mining industry, including of storage ‘facilities’ like that which failed in Tennessee. Was this Murray site in accordance with code? Was the company reckless in procedures and processes? These are questions that investigation in the coming weeks (maybe not, Bush Administration, after all) and months (perhaps under Barack Obama) will likely answer. In the meantime, we have a reminder of yet another ugly reality behind the false advertising of “Clean Coal (video of spill)”.

For some discussions of the Coal Ash spill, see:

DeSmogBlog: Massive Coal Ash Spill in Tennessee puts the lie to Clean Coal (also HuffPost on Clean Coal)

Greenpeace call for investigation (See The True Cost of Coal)

NRDC: Real Life Coal Disaster pops Clean Coal Fantasy

Watthead: This is Clean Coal (also at It’s Getting Hot in Here: This is Clean Coal: Massive Coal Sludge Spill dwarfs Exxon Valdez; Focus the Nation: Massive Coal Sludge Spill; and Clean Energy: This is Clean Coal)

Scholar & Rogues: Ash Flood Superfund

Science Blogs: Let’s talk about Clean Coal

And, a call for rapid investigation of similar sites throughout coal country, such as for Pennsylvania.

By the way, an amusing coincidence, with the Clean Coal disinformation campaign reaching out for volunteer bloggers for the “Clean Coal Blogger Brigade” as the spill floods out to endanger Tennessee’s water supply.

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Tags: coal · Energy · environmental