Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pain in the Ash: Spill spews tons of coal ash into NC Dan River - CNN.com

Spill spews tons of coal ash into North Carolina's Dan River - CNN.com:

Oh what a pain it is! ... A Pain in the Ash, so to speak.

One of the dirty little secrets of Coal is the ash!. The massive 2008 spill in TVA should have been a bit of a wakeup call. But this phone has been ringing for centuries. There's impurities in coal, including sulfur and heavy metals like lead and arsenic. See the EPA letter on the TVA spill. And coal power releases 100 times as much radiation into the environment as a nuclear power plant. High concentrations of uranium and thorium are released into the environment around a plant from the fly ash. See APA on this ash issue.

The other secrets are that about 10,000 people die in mines per year, most of them coal, and often in China. There's the impact to air and water that many estimates impact the health of hundreds of millions of people.

The bull in the China closet, of course, is -- well -- China. They burn more than half of the world's coal right now. PRC is still opening still are opening 1 to 2 coal power plants per week, unless that has changed. And they are much less worried about how much pollution escapes into the air and water. The summer Olympics were distinctive for the air pollution, and athletes trying to compete in smog.

This smog and pollution is "shared" with neighboring countries, and the world at large. Even the Americas on occasion get a beautiful sunset, complements of the Peoples Republic.

As well, coal is a huge greenhouse gas producer of CO2, something that is invisibly shared with the whole of the planet... and no one knows what the true costs and full consequences are. But we do know that CO2 as a greenhouse gas lasts about 100 years, so whatever the impacts are, they will be very, very, very long lasting.

Many economist suggest a tax on something that has distinctive, negative externalities. Maybe coal would be a candidate!? Taxes on cigarettes are an example. A gradual tax domestically seems logical. Maybe the rest of the world should tax all the coal that gets exported to China, as well. How about an import tax on those products that are primarily produced by dirty Chinese electricity?

The dirty little secrets of coal are getting out. It's been 2 centuries that coal has ruled the power infrastructure. It is time to seriously address this "open" secret.

If you are a stockholder or a customer of Duke, it is time to give the Duke a nudge, and elbow, or even a brisk kick in the 'ash!...

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