Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Coal That Ain't So Clean

I see commercials about clean coal technology at least three or four times a day when I'm watching cable news but I hadn't heard anything about this disaster before I read about it at Pharyngula yesterday; this is horrible:

When power plants burn coal to produce energy, the coal doesn't just vanish into the atmosphere to cause global warming. No, there's a substantial amount of left-over sludge called coal ash, a nasty mess that is enriched for toxic heavy metals. It is seriously nasty stuff. This glop has to be stored, somewhere, usually piled up and walled-off, because it's not healthy for anything.

Behold what happens when the containment walls fail.

This is happening right now, here in the United States. Yesterday, a retaining wall failed, and 500 million gallons of coal ash — the vile grey slime in the video — poured down into the tributaries of the Tennessee River, the water supply for Chattannooga and environs.

We're looking at a major environmental catastrophe, bigger than any oil spill, and most of the news media are silent about it. I checked CNN, MS-NBC, even Fox News…not a word. The local newspapers have a few articles, and the regional blogs are trying to follow it, but otherwise, I guess we're going to pretend it didn't happen.

Sure, why report on this when there are snow storms in the Northeast, the annual War on Christmas and the Rod Blagojovich scandal to fill the 24 hour news cycle; that's the damn liberal media for you. I'd be very surprised if Bush does anything substantial about this environmental tragedy before he leaves office other than pardoning those responsible or changing environmental regulations to say that coal ash is indeed good for our water supply; Barack Obama certainly does have his work cut out for him come January. 27 days.

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