Purple Haze 2: Die Harder…And Other Comments about Coal-fired Power Plants

Back on January 26th, I published a post about a noxious blue haze that enveloped the Kanawha Valley. It was later determined that the miasma came from the John Amos coal fired power plant. Faced with public pressure, the meek WV Department of Environmental Protection issued a warning to John Amos. If there was one single person who thought this warning would be heeded by the utility giant (which literally gets away with murder), the recent return of the purple plume should expell his or her doubts.

Yes, the blue haze and its chlorine smell is back. Last time, apologists blamed an unusual “weather inversion” for keeping the pollutants near the ground. This could be the case again. Yet, this hardly seems to be a valid defense for John Amos. Of course, the pollutants have to go somewhere; someone’s back yard is always being infected by coal fired polution.

In a related note,  “Closing Coal-fired power plants Improves Cognitive Development of Children, A New Study Suggests.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714151525.htm

And, while we are on the subject of coal-fired power plants, here is a list of reasons put together by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network for us to stop burning coal, even if we all have to sit in the dark (which we wouldn’t…)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – Carbon dioxide, caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, is the leading cause of global warming.

Sulfur Dioxide – Sulfur dioxide is the leading cause of acid rain and soot, which causes cardiovascular and respiratory health problems.
Fine Particulate Matter– The microscopic particles emitted from the smokestacks of power plants and other industries are a major cause of asthma, cancer, and heart attacks.  
·        8.7% of all children in the US under 17 suffer from asthma. Childhood asthma has more than doubled since 1980.[iv]
Mercury — Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can cause brain development defects in fetuses and impede intellectual development in children.  .
·        Studies estimate that one-out-of-six American women of childbearing age may have unsafe levels of mercury in their blood.
·        Several hundred miles of Virginia waterways currently have advisories against eating fish because of high mercury content, including most of the James River, Rappahannock River, and Knox Creek.
·        Coal-fired electrical generating units (EGUs) are the largest manmade source of mercury emissions, accounting for 40% nationally.
Nitrogen – Nitrogen emissions cause smog, which leads to respiratory health effects. Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen causes major environmental impacts on the Chesapeake Bay, national parks, and other wilderness areas. 

And there is more. For instance, “Autism Rates linked to Distance from coal-fired Power Plants.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080424120953.htm

And there is definately a problem with burying valleys with the ungodly amount of poisonous ash created by these plants.

And of course, most coal-fired power plants use coal extracted by mountain top removal.

I’m positive that my list of reasons for “No New Coal” is incomplete, so feel free to comment, unless you are going to argue that the jobs and energy produced by coal is worth the cost. Killing can never be justified as collateral damage; not in Iraq, not in Vietnam, not in Appalachia.


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