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Today there is sad news out of Roane County, Tenn.: A retention pond at the Kingston coal-fired steam plant burst, sending more than 524 million gallons of coal fly ash and water into the nearby town of Harriman and Watts Bar Lake. One man was injured when his home was swept off its foundation, and the mudslide also affected 15 other homes.

Reports are that the rush of mud, ash and water now covers 400 acres and is several feet deep in some areas – this coal ash spill is also many times more massive than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The cleanup is expected to last weeks, but some lives have already been altered forever - and the full environmental impact is not yet known. Fly ash is known to contain numerous toxic chemicals and it’s being reported that some of the spill made it into the Tennessee River – a water supply source for the city of Chattanooga as well as people in Alabama.

And now we have to wonder if the Tennessee Valley Authority is being fully open about what's in that fly ash water – bloggers are already taking notice, including these two Knoxville Sentinel blog posts here and here. The second post links to this an excellent article about the risks.

While coal company CEOs flog the supposed wonders of "clean" coal – they cannot get around the latest coal industry disaster: massive coal sludge spills. To see more of the destruction, just look at the aerial video of the spill. How many more reminders do we need that burning coal for power is filthy and dangerous? And will those doing the cleanup and those living nearby in the aftermath be properly protected in this possibly toxic environment?

The coal industry’s poor design and maintenance of its sludge ponds has a long and sordid history: In 1972, a giant impoundment collapsed in Logan County, West Virginia, causing a landslide that killed 125 people, injured 1,000 others, and left 4,000 people homeless.

In 2000, a sludge impoundment failed in Inez, Kentucky, spilling more than 300 million gallons of coal-contaminated waste into local waterways.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this was among the largest environmental disasters ever to occur East of the Mississippi.

There are literally hundreds of these sludge impoundments across the United States.  As coal has dominated Appalachia, it has left behind a toxic legacy for residents, a legacy that will haunt the region for decades. For example, in Sundial, West Virginia, an elementary school sits just 400 yards downhill from a massive impoundment containing 2.8 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge.

Next time you hear some PR spin about an imaginary fuel called "clean" coal" ask them about the hundreds of thousands of Americans who struggle to breathe because of air pollution from coal burning, or the latest Americans whose homes have been destroyed or flooded by coal sludge.  

P.S.- There is no air pollution or devastating flooding associated with solar and wind power.

Originally posted to Bruce Nilles on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:44 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Also diaried by ripple (118+ / 0-)

    at http://www.dailykos.com/...

    ... but this is serious enough to rate many, many diaries.

    "You can't negotiate with reality" - James Kunstler

    by Bob Love on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:50:28 AM PST

    •  Thanks for the heads up (157+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      laurak, kainah, RunawayRose, Bob Love, LynChi, cotterperson, Stein, eeff, Sandy on Signal, varro, frisco, sobermom, lzachary, MarkInSanFran, bumblebums, Creosote, agoldnyc, bronte17, 88kathy, MD patriot, CoolOnion, peace voter, CalNM, scamp, mkfarkus, roses, peraspera, amanuensis, skertso, MJB, SneakySnu, Miss Jones, grannyhelen, GN1927, Greg in TN, annetteboardman, awkward007, RebeccaG, lcrp, SDorn, MeToo, side pocket, Josiah Bartlett, rapala, davidincleveland, Tinfoil Hat, jrooth, Ckntfld, Simplify, ChemBob, reflectionsv37, Jules Beaujolais, oregonj, jimstaro, EdlinUser, ladybug53, lotlizard, Ice Blue, playtonjr, Unduna, JanL, ohcanada, dancewater, skywriter, Mother Mags, martini, occams hatchet, Debbie in ME, Pinko Elephant, ripple, BlueInARedState, tonyahky, Ellicatt, dougymi, Wary, fiddler crabby, greenearth, joeyess, tecampbell, global citizen, imabluemerkin, ER Doc, doinaheckuvanutjob, SingerInTheChoir, Steve Bloom, Lovo, Dreaming of Better Days, kurt, Picot verde, blueintheface, NonnyO, we are 138, phonegery, John Clavis, offgrid, gloriana, Jimdotz, greenchiledem, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, lurks a lot, davehouck, malharden, mudslide, jnhobbs, gloryous1, willb48, Empower Ink, MKinTN, kafkananda, rogerdaddy, rontun, TokenLiberal, Jeff Y, ankey, kyril, luckylizard, A Man Called Gloom, Athenocles, Executive Odor, Grass, Ellinorianne, shortgirl, prodigalkat, wv voice of reason, maggiejean, cameoanne, sustainable, reasonanyone, banjolele, Rabbithead, Daily Activist, Mercuriousss, redtex, platypus60, allep10, jfromga, NThenUDie, swvadem, ppl can fly, p gorden lippy, LaughingPlanet, TheWesternSun, melpomene1, Anne933, NYWheeler, addisnana, MsGrin, Otteray Scribe, Floande, zegota, bottles, CA Berkeley WV, Anne was here, Hill Jill, Olon, Susipsych, bamabikeguy

      Hope you can link to this post on yours. You're right, more people should be on this issue!

      •  Information needed on DIRTY COAL (34+ / 0-)

        We need all the counterpunch we can muster against the MISINFORMATION on which the coal industry spends $40 million to confuse the public.

        COAL IS DIRTY

        COAL IS FILTHY

        coal is NOT clean

        "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

        by oregonj on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:00:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  524 million gal = 1608 acre-feet (39+ / 0-)

          So that is 1,608 acres covered a foot deep!  What a mess, and of course it is probably much deeper than that in certain areas if it swept a house off the foundation.  It helps to envision the tremendous size of this spill if you consider how much area it could cover.

          Exxon Valdez was 10.8 million gallons, so "just"  2% of the size of this massive spill.

        •  Where is Clean Coal when we need it? (8+ / 0-)

          We need the elves and unicorns set to hording this wonderful technology to give it up to those of us living in Reality.

          "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

          by mbayrob on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:21:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Come on, this is one more example of how (8+ / 0-)

            clean coal technology can provide jobs and bolster the economy. Think how many people will be employed cleaning up this mess and the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be pumped into the economy.

            Moreover, it will surely give a boost to the health care industry for decades to come, and faux environmental researchers will have a virtual field day writing grant applications to secure funding for ever more convincing studies of the value of clean coal technology.

            "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

            by rontun on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:33:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh rontun.... (5+ / 0-)

              they won't clean it up.  Sorry- but they just let it wash out of the river and then all the fish die and people get their water trucked in for a year and then someone tests it and calls it clean.  For more on what this feels like, check out Sludge from Appelshop.  http://appalshop.org/...

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:09:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I do hope you realize I was being snarky. (12+ / 0-)

                I'm a native of Kentucky and am quite familiar with the lousy record of the coal companies and the government.

                Decades ago I protested strip mining. What we have today is far worse - a total devastation of the eco-system.

                What's always troubled me about the whole issue is that Appalachia has long been exploited by other regions of the country in search of cheap energy. It's okay to despoil the landscape of West Virginia and Kentucky so long as inexpensive electricity can be delivered to the rest of the country.

                Even today Kentucky is willing to accept the development of more coal-fired plants and broader mountaintop clearing in exchange for the revenue and jobs created in an area where poverty has long been endemic. It's really an act of desperation on the part of folks in the Appalachian region.

                As progressives we talk so much about the exploitation of developing countries and peoples, yet we turn a blind eye to our domestic abuses.

                And the abuses aren't confined to the coal industry. Take a look at the auto industry and how the foreign manufacturers have located their plants in "right-to-work" states that provide cheap labor and lax safety and environmental standards. Those state governments have been complicit, offering enormous financial incentives to the manufacturing companies in exchange for employment opportunities. The result is that the poor taxpayers in states such as Kentucky are required to subsidize the auto industry (In the 1980s Kentucky provided over $800 million in subsidies to Toyota to attract the manufacturing plant in Georgetown), helping to destroy good paying jobs in the upper Midwest.

                At some point we need to aim for greater parity, with people in all parts of the country sharing the burden. That means stronger federal standards and regulations and most likely a diminished role for state governments.

                "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

                by rontun on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:50:00 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  ditto..... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rontun

                  frankly I didn't realize it was snark.  I live in the unhealthiest city in America, surrounded by coal fired power plants.  I take pictures of the destruction as I fly over it.  I drive through the clouds of steam from the John Amos power plant and watch the infamous "blue haze."  This place is in trouble and we need some help.  We love out Toyota plant here in WV- they are one of the most productive in the system.  But even Toyota builds unsustainable big trucks and the folks here are getting laid off.

                  The biggest irony was watching the crappy shitty call center jobs sent abroad to people who would work for even less after subsidies spent to attract them.  Seriously though, we invested better in Toyota.

                  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                  by murrayewv on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 05:20:05 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  PATH will make it worse (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rontun

                    The Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline, a high-voltage transmission line running from John Amos to, ultimately, New Jersey and the northeast. PATH is being built to carry the output of up to eight coal-fired plants - so we'll get all the different kinds of pollution, the health risks, the destruction of habitat and communities. Oh, and our rates are going up to help pay for it, even though we don't get any of the electricity. We're being treated like a giant extension cord for the rest of the country, yet people wonder why West Virginia is so hardscrabble.

                    Bush is a slithy tove!

                    by blonde moment on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 06:25:42 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  The Stonecutters are hoarding it... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joehoevah

            ...just like they held back the electric car.

            9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

            by varro on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:34:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This is Coal Sludge...... (8+ / 0-)

          Not Good- not good at all.  
          coal sludge

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:02:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Looks like a LOT more than "400 acres" (30+ / 0-)

        looked like miles of riverbed and surrounding country washed away. Roads sliced off.  Video stream is very slow.

        don't always believe what you think...

        by claude on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:23:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Toxicity & energy production (12+ / 0-)

        There is no air pollution or devastating flooding associated with solar and wind power.

        Toxic pollution from the manufacture of solar components is indeed a problem.

        China's toxic waste in solar energy

        Washington Post: China is rapidly becoming a leading manufacturer of solar-cells. Unfortunately, the highly toxic waste -- silicon tetrachloride -- from the production of polysilicon, which is used to make solar cells, is polluting ground water and the surrounding villages around the plants. Unlike in the West where stricter environmental regulations are in effect, solar plants in China have not installed technology to prevent pollutants from getting into the environment or have not brought those systems fully online, writes Washington post reporter Ariana Eunjung Cha.

        "The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place. . . . It is like dynamite -- it is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it," said Ren Bingyan, a professor at the School of Material Sciences at Hebei Industrial University. Shi Jun, a former photovoltaic technology researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences estimates that Chinese companies are saving millions of dollars by not installing pollution recovery. "If this happened in the United States, you'd probably be arrested," he said.

        Physics Today.

        All solar arrays require backup because they do not produce base-load (24/7, steady output) electricity.  They operate on average at 25% capacity.  Usually that backup involves burning fossil fuels.

        A 1000-MW wind farm requires 5-10 times the amount of steel and concrete as a 1000-MW nuclear plant.  Steel and concrete are made using coal combustion. Wind's average capacity is about 34%.  Wind farms require backup because they are not base-load providers.  That backup usually comes from burning fossil fuels.

        I am in favor of eliminating all coal-fired plants and their toxic sludge, and all the diesel-powered trains that transport the coal.  24,000 people die annually in the US just from the fine particulates due to coal emissions.  Coal, however, provides base-load electricity, along with natural gas.  Coal provides half of US electricity.  Wind and solar cannot replace coal.

        I am in favor of the growth of wind and solar power. But the only replacement for coal on a large scale right now is nuclear power.

        Nuclear plants do not pollute the air and their life-cycle carbon footprint is about the same as wind's.  A 1000-MW nuclear plant takes up less than a square mile. A 1000-MW wind farm takes up 200 square miles.  It's true that the land between the huge concrete anchors for the turbines and between the maintenance roads can be used for agriculture, however.

        There's no risk-free energy source.

        Jesse Ausubel, who has been campaigning since 1979 to wake up people about catastrophic global warming:

        Moreover, solar and renewables in every form require large and complex machinery to produce many megawatts. Berkeley engineer Per Petersen reports that for an average MWe a typical wind-energy system operating with a 6.5 meters-per-second average wind speed requires construction inputs of 460 metric tons of steel and 870 cubic meters of concrete. For comparison, the construction of existing 1970-vintage US nuclear power plants required 40 metric tons of steel and 190 cubic meters of concrete per average megawatt of electricity generating capacity. Wind’s infrastructure takes 5-10 times the steel and concrete as nuclear’s. Bridging the cloudy and dark as well as calm and gusty weather takes storage batteries and their heavy metals. Without vastly improved storage, the windmills and PVs are supernumeraries for the coal, methane, and uranium plants that operate reliably round the clock day after day

        .

        More here.

        The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

        by Plan9 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:00:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Geothermal (18+ / 0-)
          Geothermal, geothermal, geothermal, geothermal, geothermal, geothermal.

          Why is this the red-headed stepchild of renewable energy. Not enough jobs in it? Too many sacred cows gored? Too much in favor of existing drilling technology?
          Geothermal has an abundance of potential sites, no waste, no CO2 and no intermittency.
          Why no advocates?

          •  Geothermal is great (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SDorn, Arsenic, Nulwee

            but it's limited to certain regions, like CA and NV, where it does a good job supplying base-load electricity on a small scale.

            Also geothermal brings up radioactive minerals from the earth's crust.  I do not consider that a problem, but radiophobes might.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:10:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  geothermal can be used all over (0+ / 0-)

              A simple geothermal application is for individual homes to put a pipe down 30 or so feet and circulate water.  It doesn't completely cool/heat your house, but it does a great deal of the work.  Unfortunately, I think it only makes sense in a new house - we calculated the cost of adding it to our existing house and the numbers didn't make it worthwhile.

              •  Agree about home geothermal (0+ / 0-)

                I looked into it as well.  If you build a new house it's fantastic.  But very costly and problematic if you want to stay in the house you have. True also of adding on solar.

                But home-use geothermal is not the type that can power a Prius factory or Chicago or NYC.  You need  actual geothermal plants for that.  And they need to be located in areas where deep geothermal can be readily tapped.

                Geothermal is part of the solution to GHG for sure, and it is base-load.

                The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                by Plan9 on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 06:15:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Noisy, noisy, noisy (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9, Nulwee

            Ever been within 5 miles of a geothermal plant? It's really loud.

            You can't support the GOP and the Constitution at the same time!

            by Arsenic on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:26:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've driven right past them (0+ / 0-)

              Didn't hear a thing.

              So many impeachable offenses, so little time... -6.0 -5.33

              by Cali Techie on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:34:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Geothermal? (Like the Cal Geysers plant) (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Plan9, Nulwee, Cali Techie

                or ground source heatpumps?  They are not free of issues (nothing is tho).

                You can't support the GOP and the Constitution at the same time!

                by Arsenic on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:16:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yup (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Arsenic

                  The one I'm thinking of is in Nevada just to the south of I-80 somewhere in the middle of the desert. It's located in a rather large area where steam escapes from the ground through fissures. I couldn't hear anything that was louder than my car.

                  So many impeachable offenses, so little time... -6.0 -5.33

                  by Cali Techie on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:25:40 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Next time ya go by (0+ / 0-)

                    Stop for a moment and roll down the window.  Venting steam is loud and all the plants I have been to (Geysers, Salton Sea, Taupopo) require hearing protection.  Mayby they worked it out in Nevada?

                    You can't support the GOP and the Constitution at the same time!

                    by Arsenic on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 08:01:37 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Most heavy industrial (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Arsenic

                      plants require hearing protection. If you can hear loud noises outside the walls it probably has more to do with their remote location where sound insulation isn't really needed.

                      I've been inside a natural gas fired power plant. Inside it is quite loud and hearing protection is required, but because it was located in a population center they took steps to make sure from the outside not much more than a hum was audible.

                      So many impeachable offenses, so little time... -6.0 -5.33

                      by Cali Techie on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 08:43:39 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I know what you are saying (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Cali Techie

                        We put the headsets on at the gate and wore them unless we were in the soundproofed building.  I'm not challenging your observations, but I am a geochemist with experience in the geothermal industry, it has been a problem in the past.  Nothing that technology cant overcome if the money is there.

                        You can't support the GOP and the Constitution at the same time!

                        by Arsenic on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:31:27 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  geothermal??? you really think it is clean power? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bob Love

            Save Medicine Lake

            News by Michelle Berditschevsky

            Another Round in the Ninth Circuit
            In late May, while a blanket of snow still covered the Medicine Lake Highlands, our attorneys at Stanford Legal Clinics received an order seeking additional briefing on our Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lawsuit challenging the Fourmile Hill geothermal project. The panel of three judges ruling on the case specifically asked about our argument that BLM illegally renewed the geothermal leases without doing environmental review or consultation with Native Americans. The judges want the attorneys' views on how the 2005 revisions to the Geothermal Steam Act (GSA) might affect the argument. The defendants in the case, BLM and Calpine, received similar requests from the court.

            When they were awarded in the 1980s, the leases gave geothermal companies like Calpine full rights to explore, develop and sell geothermal energy, with minimal environmental review and no consultations with Native Americans. When they came up for renewal in 1998, the agencies knew that there was great public and Native American concern about the environmental and cultural impacts on the sacred, near pristine Medicine Lake Highlands. Our lawsuit argues that at this point, the agencies should have taken a hard look, through environmental review and consultations, at whether geothermal development was even appropriate for the Medicine Lake Highlands—a question that has never been asked.

            The changes in the GSA came as a result of the Energy Act of 2005 which was designed with heavy influence by the industry to make laws more "streamlined" for all energy developers. This is a continuation of the Bush business-friendly policy. The outcome of the Ninth Circuit case could still be a few months away, hard to tell....

            Big Splash at Water Board
            The pristine aquifer beneath the Medicine Lake Volcano feeds the largest fresh water springs in California, the Fall River Springs, which are among the most voluminous in the entire United States. This was a key factor at a hearing involving Calpine Corporation’s attempt to obtain a waste discharge permit for its geothermal projects from the Central Valley Regional Water Board in Rancho Cordova on May 4th.

            The four-hour hearing rose to dramatic intensity with testimony by the Ecology Center and the Pit River Tribe, together with attorneys and our hydrogeology consultant.. Our team challenged Calpine’s position that drilling numerous wells and temperature gradient holes, that the dumping of up to 60,000 gallons of highly toxic hydrofluoric acids into every geothermal well, and that the piping and discharging of effluent laden with arsenic and mercury into million-gallon sumps would not have serious effects on surface or ground water.

            It was reassuring to be finally heard after all these years. The Water Board took these issues seriously despite Calpine, Calpine’s attorney, and the regional Water Board staff recommending the adoption of the permit. Board members contended that Calpine was piecemealing the permitting process, and that the Environmental Impact Report did not cover the grave issues.

            Calpine admits plans for up to 10 power plants...
            When queried by members of the Water Board who had concerns that the project, which would produce a mere 50 megawatts of electric production, may not warrant the impacts on such a large water source, Calpine avowed that it could lead to development of as much as 400 to 500 megawatts in the Medicine Lake Highlands.

            This translates to as many as ten power plants with associated well fields and pipelines. The Telephone Flat project alone would cover eight square miles of the Medicine Lake Caldera, a designated Native American Traditional Cultural District on the National Register of Historic Places and a popular recreational destination.

            Tribal issues
            The Pit River Tribe, represented by Councilman Gene Preston, stated that "given the high risks of contaminating...the lakes, springs, streams and underlying aquifer of the Medicine Lake Highlands, the geothermal project under consideration is incompatible with the state's policy to prevent degradation of surface or groundwater." He emphasized that "the Medicine Lake Highlands’ pristine pure waters are a key element of the area’s cultural significance... The waters are used for ceremonial, healing and life sustaining purposes...[and] the Tribal cultural requirement is that the waters must be pure."

            Hydrogeology speaks
            Dr. Robert Curry, a hydrogeologist testifying on behalf of the Pit River Tribe and Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, held the audience spellbound with a power point presentation of the characteristics of the Medicine Lake Volcano and what is known of its underlying aquifer. He stated that it would be very difficult to monitor any contamination that could show up in 20 to 100 years, and that at least 85% of the Fall River Springs come from the Medicine Lake Volcano. Besides the acidization process, another danger is that the geothermal fluids, which are known to contain toxic substances, can leak up along fault lines in the strata and thus potentially contaminate the huge fresh water aquifer. He spoke about the inadequacy of the monitoring wells, which were too shallow and confined mainly to the project area, and so would not detect leaks or accidents at deeper levels.

            Legal matters
            A legal issue of great concern to the Ecology Center and the Tribe is the lack of environmental analysis of the use of hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acids. The draft permit indicates that up to 60,000 gallons of acids may be injected for the purpose of dissolving precipitated minerals from fractures in the rock strata in order to pool the geothermal resource. Hydrofluoric acid is a highly corrosive liquid, classified as "extremely hazardous" under the Superfund law, and hydrochloric acid has similar hazardous properties.

            "The storage, handling, injection, and discharge of this material, therefore, poses potentially significant environmental impacts to both humans and surface and subsurface resources in the area, including the drinking water aquifer resources through which any deep geothermal injection and extraction wells must pass," stated the legal testimony of the Stanford Legal Clinic team, consisting of Deborah Sivas and Aidan McGlaze. "Given these facts, it is astonishing that there has never been any CEQA analysis of the proposed use of hydrofluoric or hydrochloric acid at Well No. 31-17," the well at which this substance would be permitted.

            In the federal process, BLM has concluded that no further acidization may take place until NEPA review is completed. However, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior permitted acidization of one well concurrently with the Bush administration's reversal of the original local BLM decision to deny the Telephone Flat project.

            Just like Drano
            Continuing Calpine’s strategy to minimize the gravity of environmental effects, their representative, Charlene Wardlow, likened the acidization procedure to simply pouring Drano down a sink, to which Peggy Risch, speaking for the Ecology Center, retorted: "I don't know about your sink, but mine doesn't empty into one of the purest aquifers in California." Ms. Risch also cited the failure of the permit to involve the Department of Toxic Substances Control in the discharging process, and that the North Coast Regional Water Board had specifically denied the acidization process in a similar permit.

            BLM state geologist Sean Hagerty admitted that acidization was very controversial in the Medicine Lake Highlands, though the substance had been used in a few other instances elsewhere and once in 1989 for a well at Telephone Flat. Because of the public controversy surrounding this procedure’s potential effects in this volcanic terrain, and admitting that acidization had not been studied in any environmental document, BLM had decided to limit acidization to the one well that had been approved by DOI Assistant Secretary Rebecca Watson in 2003.

            Besides acidization, Ms. Risch stated some of the Ecology Center’s numerous other issues, including failure to do any environmental review of underground pipelines, and the use of outdated environmental documents to justify some of the exploration wells. Center Director Michelle Berditschevsky added concern over Calpine’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and the uncertainty of the corporation’s future in covering bonding requirements in the event of accidents and for closure of the project.

            Continuing the process in September
            After discussion, some members of the Water Board recommended outright denial of the permit. However, the consensus was to continue the issue to a later Board agenda. At this point, it would be either the Board’s August or the September meeting. Besides the issue of inadequate environmental review on the acidization process, other unresolved issues included potential lack of financial resources and need for an adequate bonding package, as well as a better understanding of the impacts of leaks and accidental releases, and a risk analysis to ascertain the potential dangers to drinking water for 23 million Californians.

            We were left with the impression that this was a very different kind of venue for Medicine Lake. The federal agencies we have been dealing with seem more removed, and even though local officials initially denied the Telephone Flat project, they were ultimately subject to the Bush powers in Washington DC who reversed their decision and approved the project. With water quality issues, the buck stops with the state we all live and drink water in. We who live near the pristine sources have a special responsibility.

            PLEASE TAKE ACTION!

        •  Oh, Plan9 (13+ / 0-)

          All solar arrays require backup because they do not produce base-load (24/7, steady output) electricity.  They operate on average at 25% capacity.  Usually that backup involves burning fossil fuels.

          A 1000-MW wind farm requires 5-10 times the amount of steel and concrete as a 1000-MW nuclear plant.  Steel and concrete are made using coal combustion. Wind's average capacity is about 34%.  Wind farms require backup because they are not base-load providers.  That backup usually comes from burning fossil fuels.

          You've read and recommended so many of my diaries that I'm sad to see you write this. Wind and solar don't "need" backup because that backup already exists. Any newly build wind or solar power plant reduces the need for existing fossil-fuel generation without requiring new construction.

          A MWh of wind fully replaces a MWh of fossil-fuel generated electricity (even if a MW of wind does not replace a MW of the same - but it's MWh that matter most).

          btw, your numbers on steel are not correct. A 3MW turbine represents 100 ton of steel in the nacelle, and about the same in the tower, and less than 500 ton of concrete. That's about 40 cubic meters of steel - less than nuclear, it would seem and similarly less concrete.

          Let's worry about the problems of 40% wind penetration when we get there, ok?

          •  Nuclear trolls are seldom correct (0+ / 0-)
            they just like to provide fake data, to reinforce the idea that they know something you don't.  Spreadsheets don't lie, just the people that use them.

            Sorry about your rights, we hope to have them restored shortly.

            by qi motuoche on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:05:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh really? You are an expert in reading (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              varro, Plan9, marybluesky

              spreadsheets, besides being an ignorant ass who impugns the ethics of people who are not quite as dumb as you are.

              Try this spreadsheet on for size:

              The largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy and the other crap.

              I would rather not hear your interpretation of these numbers since I have yet to meet ONE anti-nuke, not one, who can understand the meaning of numbers.

              I have yet to meet ONE "renewables will save us" dangerous fossil fuel apologist who can grasp, even for a second, that there are other reasons for advocating something than for money.   This is because there are zero anti-nukes of the "renewables will save us" type who are anything but yuppie consumers.

              I note, with due contempt for ignorance, that there is NOT ONE anti-nuke on this website who can produce a number of deaths from all the nuclear operations on earth for the last 50 years as will die in the next week in Illinois from dangerous fossil fuel waste.

              On the other hand, you can't be an ignorant anti-nuke if you understand numbers.

              Like my sig line says:

              •  and it helps to share the nuclear fuel cycle (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tinfoil Hat

                around the world, always a plus.

                http://www.logtv.com/...

                The people of the area have suffered no less than three nuclear disasters: For over six years, the Mayak complex systematically dumped radioactive waste into the Techa River, the only source of water for the 24 villages which lined its banks.The four largest of those villages were never evacuated, and only recently have the authorities revealed to the population why they strung barbed wire along the banks of the river some 35 years ago.Russian doctors who study radiation sickness in the area estimate that those living along the Techa River received an average of four times more radiation than the Chernobyl victims.

                In 1957, the area suffered its next calamity when the cooling system of a radioactive waste containment unit malfunctioned and exploded.The explosion spewed some 20 million curies of radioactivity into the atmosphere.About two million curies spread throughout the region, exposing 270,000 people to as much radiation as the Chernobyl victims.Less than half of one percent of these people were evacuated, and some of those only after years had passed.

                The third disaster came ten years later.The Mayak complex had been using Lake Karachay as a dumping basin for its radioactive waste since 1951.In 1967, a drought reduced the water level of the lake, and gale-force winds spread the radioactive dust throughout twenty-five thousand square kilometers, further irradiating 436,000 people with five million curies, approximately the same as at Hiroshima.
                In the past 45 years, about half a million people in the region have been irradiated in one or more of the incidents, exposing them to as much as 20 times the radiation suffered by the Chernobyl victims.

                Human reason is beautiful and invincible --Milosz, Incantation

                by juancito on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:06:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Mayak a weapons complex, not power plant (0+ / 0-)

                  You are confusing weapons production with civilian electricity production.

                  The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                  by Plan9 on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:55:05 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  The world's smartest jackass strikes again!!! (0+ / 1-)
                Recommended by:
                Hidden by:
                oaktownadam

                It's NNadir, the Nuke lover!!!

          •  Yeah, show me a 1000MW wind farm! (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            varro, Plan9, SDorn, joehoevah

            Is it perhaps on the North Pole? Powering Santa's worshop?

            Now look, there are a couple of places in the world that COULD support a 1000MW wind farm, but not enough to satisfy our power needs. We have to make up the balance somehow, and the question is, will it be fossil fuels like coal, or will it be nuclear?

          •  Well, I would suggest that this headline from the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9

            Danish Energy Agency would be difficult to explain from that standpoint.

            Danish consumption of natural gas grew.

            At 9.9 bn. Nm3 in 2006, Danish production of natural gas. was almost the same as for 2005. Exports of natural gas fell by 6.1 per cent because of less exports to Germany. Domestic natural-gas consumption rose by 2.2 per cent in 2006 to 4.8 bn. Nm3. This increase was caused by higher consumption by Danish power plants.

            I note that Denmark is leasing more dangerous natural gas fields off shore, not fewer.

            Denmark, I think, has no plan whatsoever to phase out dangerous fossil fuels.

            •  I can see why you used a nearly two year old link (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RAST

              to emphasize that Danish consumption of natural gas rose by 2.2% in 2006. I knew there's no way you would use the corresponding link from the very same website a year later to inform readers that Danish natural gas consumption fell by 10.5 per cent in 2007.

              You've never been shy of cherry-picking old data in your pro-nuclear anti-anything-else rants before, so why start now?

              •  ROFL (0+ / 0-)

                That's an awesome smackdown.  I love it.  A 10.5% reduction is huge.

                "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values" - Bill Clinton.

                by RAST on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 07:19:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I guess then you'll obliviously as usual neglect (0+ / 0-)

                ALL the data, including that the 2007 "reduced" level is 144% of what it was in 1995, 117% higher than it was in 1996, 121% greater than it was in 1997, 118% of what it was in 1998, and 110% of what it was in 2000.

                Both 2005 and 2006 were close to record years for gas consumption, although for both of those years lots and lots and lots and lots of oblivious anti-nukes were here extolling the great Danish renewable republic.  

                Just stick your oblivious denial focused head, as usual, stick your fingers in your ears and shout loudly.

                You still don't give a fuck.

                •  I think I see the NNadir algorithm (0+ / 0-)
                  1. Choose a country to be criticized that is not building new nuclear reactors.
                  1. Choose a fossil fuel.
                  1. Find a year in which consumption of said fuel increased in said country, ignoring any years where consumption decreased.
                  1. Use said statistic in an irrelevant context on Daily Kos.
                  1. When one's deception is noted, respond with a rant full of expletives and ad hominem attacks.

                  I'm not surprised Denmark exports some natural gas - the demand for the stuff is growing in Western Europe. For example, just the increase in annual natural gas use of France since 1990, is more than the total amount burned in Scandanavia each year.

          •  Self-sufficient on wind-power alone? (0+ / 0-)

            Can you cite any towns or cities that get 100% of their electricity around the clock from wind-power alone?  Or even 80%?  I am sincerely interested in knowing if that is the case today.  I very much hope it will be the case in the coming years.

            Yes, the backup already exists for wind.  In the US it's usually called "fossil combustion" since that's where we get most of our base-load electricity.  True--when the wind farm is supplying electricity it could be replacing fossil fuel combustion. Good! But as I understand it, average wind capacity is around 34% and the average US coal-fired plant capacity is 75% and the average US nuclear plant capacity is over 90%.  So during the times when wind output drops, something has to replace it.

            People imagine that all we need are wind farms and solar plants to power the US.  Until there are some major technological breakthroughs in storage technology, that's unlikely to be the case.  The hope of the Energy Dept. is to get wind up to 20% by 2030.  So a lot more coal will be burned in the meantime if new reactors don't go online to supply base-load/backup, because electricity demand is expected nearly to double by 2030.

            Why not build more nuclear plants to operate in tandem with wind and concentrated thermal solar? That would eliminate carbon and GHG emissions from
            the picture.  

            As for the numbers about concrete and steel that you disagree with--you will have to take up your argument with Prof. Per Petersen at UC Berkeley.

            Or you could just have a Joyeux Noel et Bonne Année with your family and we can resume our argument later.  The fact is we agree.  I am a supporter of wind power and nuclear power and so are you.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:51:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Manufacturing Processes Can Be Cleaned Up (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Miss Jones

          Fuels can not.  Coal will always be a dirty fuel.  Nuclear will always be dirty.

          •  Nuclear waste decays, heavy metals don't (0+ / 0-)

            The toxic heavy metals concentrated by coal combustion are forever.

            Spent fuel from a reactor follows a natural decay process, with the hottest particles decaying the quickest.  If that spent fuel is recycled repeatedly, the energy in the fuel is consumed in making electricity and the ultimate residue is tiny.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:58:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  where will you put the nuclear waste, btw? (0+ / 0-)

          Human reason is beautiful and invincible --Milosz, Incantation

          by juancito on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:57:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  As the resident nuclear power advocate, I am (12+ / 0-)

        somewhat startled to see this get TWO diaries.

        The normal operations of coal plants, which kill people continuously, are seldom discussed in any detail.

        The destruction of huge swathe of the Big Sandy River in a very similar accident almost a decade ago rarely gets attention.

        In fact, the deaths of approximately a quarter of a million people in the early 1970's from a collapsed dam in Banqiao China is similarly ignored.

        On the other hand, we talk endlessly about uranium miners, about 20 of whom got lung cancer, from mining in 1950's on this website, with contempt for the deaths of many tens of thousands of dead from coal mining in the last decade alone.

        No form of energy is risk free but nuclear is the cleanest and the safest and coal is the dirtiest and most dangerous.

        •  The problem with nuclear is that... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, NNadir, joehoevah, marybluesky

          ...all the hippie-dippies who went through the 1960s see it as evil because it's based on science they choose not to understand.

          I would like to see a fair discussion of nuclear, solar and wind power, with emphasis on the efforts to reduce or reuse radioactive waste, particularly what can be done about waste that isn't uranium or plutonium isotopes.

          9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

          by varro on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:40:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have written a number of diaries on exactly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9

            this subject.

            I have covered cesium, technetium, neptunium and several others.

            •  DFH math major who took the same physics as (0+ / 0-)

              a "real scientist" did. The 4 series at UC Berkeley, not the 6 series for biology majors. Honors Chem 4 series, also.

              Reduce radioactive waste. Is that like being a little pregnant? I just have problems snuggling up at night with atoms that can't make decide how much they weigh.

              You want diaries on coal you will have to find them on the state blogs like wvablue. faithful, for one, does some here.

              Point source electric generation. Look around your house tonight and see how many diodes are glowing. Now get on our exercise bike for 45 minutes for each one. We're even. Peanut oil makes the best french fires, when you have the munchies. Isn't that what Rudolph Diesel used in Paris? Hemp has it uses, we'll just call it switch grass. DFH and all.

              Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living~~Mother Jones

              by CA Berkeley WV on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 07:42:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have no idea what you're trying to say. (0+ / 0-)

                If you are trying to say you know something about the Bateman equations because you took a chemistry course, I am distinctly unimpressed.

                As it happens, as was pointed out in the nuclear chemistry sections at the recent ACS meeting in Philadelphia, very few Chem majors have had a decent course in nuclear physics or chemistry.

                I think you may prove that point.

                •  Science snobbery is no way to win friends (0+ / 0-)

                  If it's green or wiggles, it's biology.
                  If it stinks, it's chemistry.
                  If it doesn't work, it's physics.

                  Math, the language of the sciences.
                  I won't brag about who my bridge partners were at Cal.

                  Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living~~Mother Jones

                  by CA Berkeley WV on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 09:25:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  where do your uranium miner numbers derive? (0+ / 0-)

          what are your sources?

          •  This paper give a full table of all Navajo... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9

            ...miner deaths.

            http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/...

            There were approximately 4126 such miners in total, and this study followed 757 of them.

            Of these the number of expected deaths, given their age and health status was 303, and the observed number of deaths was 325.

            Note that the Navajo have never had what would be considered adequate health care.

            Of the deaths attributable to cancer, all cancers, the expected number of deaths was 42.2 and the observed number of deaths was 56, suggesting that their were 14 "extra deaths" from cancer.

            However the expected incidence of lung cancer was 10.4 and 34 deaths were observed from this particular cancer.

            Note that these fellows produced enough material to provide 20% of US electricity over a period of several decades.

            I get so fucking tired of producing this paper every time this matter comes up, which it does endlessly for arbitrary reasons.

            I could of course, compare to this to the number of people who died from dam collapses in the US, or the number of people who died from black lung disease, or silicosis, or coal mining related lung cancer, or coal mining accidents, but nobody gives a shit about these people.

            Only nuclear energy is required to prove that it never ever at any time ever injured a single fucking person and never will.

            All of the other forms of energy can kill at will, have done so, and will do so.

            Nuclear energy need not be perfect to be better than everything else.   It merely needs to be better than everything else, which it is.

            •  Most U miners not Native American (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GCarty

              Most of the tens of thousands of miners came from the coal fields back East during the uranium booms on the CO plateau.  A lot of them were smokers and there is a synergistic reaction between radon in mines and smoking. Deep inhalation of tobacco smoke particulates pulls attached hot particles from the radon decay chain into the lung cells.  A lot of the coal miners could not smoke in coal mines (explosions) and were thrilled to be able to smoke in U mines, even though smoking was officially prohibited.

              When mine safety regs were instituted and ventilators were installed in the U mines, the cancer rates became the same as those for the general population.

              The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

              by Plan9 on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:09:13 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly right (0+ / 0-)

          The radioactive emissions from Coal plants is much higher than anything coming from nuclear plants.  Even counting TMI, I believe.  

          We wring our hands over storing spent nuclear fuel but the radioactive and heavy metal poisoning from coal is never mentioned.

          "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values" - Bill Clinton.

          by RAST on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 07:22:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Recommended BOTH (16+ / 0-)

      Barnacle Brains CEO's blame production line for failure.

      by 88kathy on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:56:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Clean up. don't hold your breath. (10+ / 0-)

      Any McMansions at risk?  If not, we can all get over it.

      Coal.  The cave men used coal.  Do you think we could raise the bar for energy sources?

    •  I called EPA (17+ / 0-)

      The epa.gov website lists a phone number for reporting oil spills and environmental disasters. I called today Wed 12/23 at 11am EST.  I was told the EPA has no information and the person maning this hotline new nothing about the toxic TN coal spill.

      Why can't we vote online?

      by reasonanyone on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:53:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  EPA (11+ / 0-)

        knew nothing about it!

        What exactly is it they do again?  

        I saw on a news clip that local authorities were advising to boil water before consuming it.  As if arsenic, mercury, and uranium are bacterias. Boiling heavy metal neurotoxins isn't going to do shit.  The FEDs sit on the side, they don't know shit about shit.  Maybe instead of rewriting reports to make it easier for these terrorists to pollute, they should try living up to the Protection that's in their middle name.

        There was a funny hyper-rumor before the election, floated by the right media that Obama was going to try to bankrupt big coal.  In my heart, it was the biggest reason I could ever imagine voting for the guy.  

        That is one Obama rumor I can fully endorse.

    •  Also - no media coverage so far. (12+ / 0-)

      Nothing on CNN, FOX, NY TIMES, AP, REUTERS etc..  No main stream media coverage - zero.  

      You would think an environmental disaster spill larger then the Exxon Valdeeze would be news worthy.

      No coverage, none = total media blackout.

      Why can't we vote online?

      by reasonanyone on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:56:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nice job Bruce Nilles (5+ / 0-)

      I knew this story belonged on the rec list.  Thanks for remembering the Inez spill too.

  •  More (91+ / 0-)

    As before, full disclosure, I am the director of the Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign.

    Also, from our locals on the ground in this area, the Martin County coal sludge spill I mention was 30 times larger than the Valdez spill.

    And take notice - this spill happened by a coal-fired power plant, not a mine. That means if we start building more coal plants around the US that have these ash impoundments, this will always be a risk.

    •  it's not a matter of if these impoundments will.. (25+ / 0-)

      fail but rather when they will fail.

      Grandma used to call me "That One" but she had twenty-something grand-kids and Alzheimers. Now, that "That one" is President!

      by duckhunter on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:59:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Support the call for a criminal investigation (10+ / 0-)

      Greenpeace has called for a criminal investigation of the TVA for this environmental crime.

      GREENPEACE CALLS FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO COAL ASH SPILL

      Tennessee Spill Bigger Than Exxon Valdez; Dead Fish Washing Up, Homes Evacuated

      CONTACT: Glenn Hurowitz, Greenpeace Media Director, 202-552-1828; Interview Availability with Rick Hind (bio below)

      WASHINGTON, DC—Greenpeace today called for a criminal investigation into the failure of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to prevent the spill of more than 500 million gallons of coal ash sludge into the Emory River, a tributary of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers. The spill followed the breach of a dike at a coal-fired power plant owned by the TVA, and covered as many as 400 acres of land with potentially toxic ash as high as six feet deep.

      "Every facility like this is supposed to have a spill contingency plan to prevent this kind of disaster," said Rick Hind, Greenpeace Legislative Director. "The authorities need to get to the bottom of what went wrong and hold the responsible parties accountable."

      Similar spills have resulted in felony charges, Hind noted.

      According to The Tennessean, the plant’s neighbors have reported previous "baby blowouts" that caused less severe contamination.

      Coal ash typically contains high concentrations of toxic chemicals like mercury, cadmium, and other heavy metals. Following the spill, local television and photographers captured large numbers of dead fish washed up on the shores of the river and images of the area covered in mud and ash; 12 homes had to be evacuated. Excellent videos are available at the website of a local NBC affiliate, WBIR (www.wbir.com).

      The contaminated rivers put the water supply at risk for major downstream cities like Chattanooga as well as millions of other people in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

      "This spill shows that coal can never be ‘clean,’" said Kate Smolski, Senior Legislative Coordinator for Greenpeace. "If the Exxon Valdez was a symbol of pollution 20 years ago, the Tennessee Coal Spill of 2008 is the symbol of it today."

      Like Exxon Valdez, the spill could take years to clean up, and some of the damage to the ecosystem could be irreparable. Smolski added that these local impacts represent only a small fraction of coal’s negative impact.

      "The really sad thing about this spill is that it’s only a small example of the damage coal causes," Smolski added. "Add in global warming, tens of thousands of annual premature deaths from power plant pollution, and hundreds of mountains leveled across Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia, and that’s the real picture of coal."

      "If we’re going to prevent disasters like this, we’ve got to complete the switch to truly clean energy like wind and solar power as rapidly as possible," Smolski said. "We can’t afford more coal disasters and more dangerous global warming impacts."

      "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

      by oregonj on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:11:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tenn keeps on voting Republican (13+ / 0-)

    clean clean scrubby coal

    Barnacle Brains CEO's blame production line for failure.

    by 88kathy on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:55:32 AM PST

  •  And when they clean it up (13+ / 0-)

    where do they put toxic sludge?

    This is devastating news.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:58:11 AM PST

  •  The vidoe from the helicopter (10+ / 0-)

    is compelling. It started off showing a bad spill and went to absolutely scary as the full scope was shown.

    I believed, but I'm damn glad it is now reality.

    by alasmoses on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:58:53 AM PST

  •  "Toxic Sludge is Good for You" book (10+ / 0-)

    on the PR that promotes this kind of tragedy.......and how to counteract it:

    http://www.prwatch.org/...

    Toxic Sludge Is Good For You

    Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
    by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:59:10 AM PST

  •  This couldn't be true..... (21+ / 0-)

    ....because MSNBC is only reporting about the Caylee Whoever baby thingie.

    "Good to be here, good to be anywhere." --Keith Richards

    by bradreiman on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:59:22 AM PST

  •  Is this the usual treatment in the U.S.? (20+ / 0-)

    No, not the spill.

    But not recycling that fly ash in concrete or for roadbed materials? As far as I know, almost all of the fly ash in Germany is used in such ways.

    So when you guys embark on your massive infrastructure rebuild next year, just use the fly ash there. Prevent another disaster, recycle the ash and save on the CO2 you'd need for mining and transporting the filler materials.

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

    by RandomGuyFromGermany on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:59:46 AM PST

    •  fly ash is often used in concretes however it.... (25+ / 0-)

      it appears that the US makes a great deal more fly ash than it does concrete.

      Grandma used to call me "That One" but she had twenty-something grand-kids and Alzheimers. Now, that "That one" is President!

      by duckhunter on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:02:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. (7+ / 0-)

        And I actually could have looked it up in Wikipedia before (my bad). Seems that as of 2005 about 40% were recycled. Maybe the rate would be higher, if some regulations to save on CO2 had been enacted (...don't think it's actually overflow; it's probably 'only' more expensive).

        Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

        by RandomGuyFromGermany on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:10:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  to be more specific (14+ / 0-)

        Fly ash can be used as a partial substitute for portland cement, which is one component of concrete along with aggregates, sand, and water. Cement mixtures with 15% fly ash are not uncommon.

        I specified a 40% fly ash mix on a project last year and it was a debacle. Despite their assurances, the concrete contractor and the concrete supplier didn't know what they were doing and the slab got away from them during one of the pours. 'Got away from them' means it dried before they were done finishing it. The concrete will work just fine, but good thing it's going to be covered up.

        Concrete with high fly ash content definitely has different working properties than typical portland cement mixes. It tends to take more time to dry and more time to reach full design strength. Ergo, some contractors add too much drying accelerator, so they can get a concrete that works like what they're used to, and a slab can get away from them.

        In their defense though, imagine a 10-story building and each floor takes an extra week to cure with fly ash vs. "regular." You've just added 2-1/2 months to the construction schedule, which is a big deal. It also takes some effort to get a supply of fly ash with properties consistent enough to use in concrete structures. So, combine all that with a construction industry that is notoriously resistant to try new things, and there you have the current state of fly ash.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:13:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds interesting, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob, alizard

          Do you work in construction or architecture?

          I used to work at a sustainable architecture office which they made from fly ash.

          Listen to Noam Chomsky's Necessary Illusions. (mp3!)

          by borkitekt on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:39:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Architecture (8+ / 0-)

            My education on fly ash came with a building currently under construction for which I'm part of the design team. My main role recently has been managing the project's LEED certification, which will likely be Silver.

            When it comes to materials and methods, there is a lot of inertia in the building industry. New products and techniques do get adopted if they're administered in small doses. However, it takes a lot of people to put a big building together and the variety in knowledge, experience, and committment to sustainable building practices is vast.

            My experience thus far is that clients, engineers, and architects are providing leadership. General contractors who haven't come around already are starting to realize that sustainable building isn't going away. The dozens of subcontractors and suppliers who contribute to a project are more of a mixed bag. Some are way ahead of the design team. Others are in the dark ages. The rest are agreeable enough, but are used to doing things a certain way and need to be lead in a different direction.

            Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

            by Joe Bob on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:22:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sounds like an interesting story, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              alizard, murrayewv

              The office I mentioned has done alot with sustainability and one of the co-owners is a chairwoman on the LEEDS board.

              Since being there, I've been finishing up my education and working in Europe in different fields, and set to start my thesis work in 2ish weeks. So, sadly, I've been a bit away from sustainability topics.

              I've sought to do a sustainable project, which should be interesting, as it seems like it could go many different directions, and with the nature of how architecture functions in Sweden, most of the requirements are built into code which might be better than some of the standard ones but weaker than LEEDs.

              Out of curiosity, let me know if there is any info online or how working with LEEDs was, I've been looking at trying to get some literature from them, upon first  most of the lit seems to be at $200 a pop, though some stuff may be online/free.

              Listen to Noam Chomsky's Necessary Illusions. (mp3!)

              by borkitekt on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:37:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  It's basically sand. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, RunawayRose, borkitekt, kyril

      Fly Ash is used in filler soil, concrete, and other construction applications in the United States, just not all of it.

      It's desirable for some applications as the grains tend to be very well sorted.

  •  Contact info for Republican TN Senator (19+ / 0-)

    who is pro-business, anti-regulation.

    Be polite and just get him on the record about his beliefs and what he plans to do about this coal sludge spill, and future coal-related business:

    http://corker.senate.gov/...

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:01:45 PM PST

  •  I thought with "clean coal" this stuff isn't a (5+ / 0-)

    problem.

    We may need it for a while, but let the transition begin now.

  •  Good coverage - leave it up (20+ / 0-)

    This will displace a Warren diary and it is a welcome relief.

    Don't forget the uranium in the mix ...

    Coal is 1 ppm to 13 ppm uranium. When it's burned without scrubbers the radioactive U-235 and non-radioactive U-238 go right into the atmosphere. If the U-238 gets high enough to catch a neutron from a cosmic ray shower you get ... plutonium(!)

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/...

    •  come on, S.W., you've a better science background (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, murrayewv

      then that.  First there's an out and out incorrect statement in your post, and second the radioactives in coal are hardly the largest concerns.  Granite rock has more uranium, and thus plutonium breed by natural neutrons, in it than coal does.

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      •  Coal plants cause more rad exposure than nukes (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, borkitekt, raincrow

        The burning of massive quantities of coal produces enormous amounts of toxic waste and radiation. The sheer volume of coal is enormous, so the residual waste is a huge problem. Mercury emitted by coal plants is more dangerous than the radiation. However, coal plants expose people living nearby to more radiation than nuclear plants.

        In a 1978 paper for Science, J. P. McBride at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and his colleagues looked at the uranium and thorium content of fly ash from coal-fired power plants in Tennessee and Alabama. To answer the question of just how harmful leaching could be, the scientists estimated radiation exposure around the coal plants and compared it with exposure levels around boiling-water reactor and pressurized-water nuclear power plants.

        The result: estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities. At one extreme, the scientists estimated fly ash radiation in individuals' bones at around 18 millirems (thousandths of a rem, a unit for measuring doses of ionizing radiation) a year. Doses for the two nuclear plants, by contrast, ranged from between three and six millirems for the same period. And when all food was grown in the area, radiation doses were 50 to 200 percent higher around the coal plants.

        McBride and his co-authors estimated that individuals living near coal-fired installations are exposed to a maximum of 1.9 millirems of fly ash radiation yearly. To put these numbers in perspective, the average person encounters 360 millirems of annual "background radiation" from natural and man-made sources, including substances in Earth's crust, cosmic rays, residue from nuclear tests and smoke detectors.

        "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:22:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  U-238 in the stratosphere (0+ / 0-)

        The plutonium production happens due to fly ash in the stratosphere capturing relatively low velocity neutrons from cosmic ray showers. I'm not enough of a particle physicist to be sure if it's right and I don't recall where I read it. So ... the point is that we're not grinding granite real fine and blowing it into the atmosphere on the regular they way we do with coal.

        •  I think the thermal neutron flux is greater (0+ / 0-)

          down deep in the atmosphere, and it's the thermal neutrons that get captured.  The high energy ones from the cosmic ray collisions won't capture, just break up the uranium nucleus; they lose energy from repeated collisions with air. The capture cross section is fairly small, too.

          That does raise a question - how much mineral dust is created naturally each year? How much plant ash; I know that radiation readings increase downwind from forest fires because of the radioactive isotopes in the uplifted ash.

          I'm much more concerned about the pH impact and the general particulate effect on waterlife than I am about any radiation effects.  Depending on if you use a high estimate, from the nuclear power industry, or a lower one, from the EPA, the yearly does from coal burning is between 1/50 and 1/1,000 the yearly dose from food, or from cosmic rays.  Moving from near sea level to an elevation 1,000 to 2,000 feet above sea level (the Great plains and Appalachian average 200 ft) boosts your radiation load several time the nuke industry's figure for coal.  If you life on the Atlantic or Gulf Coast that move also adds 23 mrem to your radiation load - an order of magnitude more than the elevation gain.  The radiation load from coal just isn't that great, and according to most sources is lost in the noise, there's plenty of other aspects to be concerned with.

      •  Still, the claim is correct. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, borkitekt, terabthia2

        Many common radioactive isotopes are indeed created by comsic rays, in tiny but measurable amounts.

        For instance, Kr-85, most of which is in the atmosphere as a result of nuclear fuel reprocessing and nuclear testing (above and underground) is known to be continuous created in the upper atmosphere.

        It is doubtful that Kr-85 represents any health risk, no matter what its source, and it is interesting that the North Korean nuclear test, a fizzle more than a bomb, was confirmed by the detection of a few atoms of Kr-85 in Japan.

        However this detection depended on an understanding of the natural concentration of this isotope, as well as its sources in industrial and military use.

        Natural tritium is formed in a similar way, but the biggest source of tritium in earth's atmosphere was tied to atmospheric nuclear testing.   Interestingly the concentration of tritium in earth's atmosphere has decreased dramatically since its 1963 peak, which ironically is about the same time that nuclear power plants came into wide use.

        After the discovery of plutonium-244 and its exceptionally long half-life, about 80 million years, a search was undertaken for terrestrial quantities of this isotope which may have survived from the period before the formation of the solar system.

        Several atoms were detected in old California thorium ores, but the source of this plutonium has been interpreted by some as resulting from cosmic ray bombardment of thorium.  It is known that terrestrial ores can be and are subject to cosmic ray bombardment.

        All of the boron and beryllium in the universe are thought to have arisen from such bombardment, since these elements are unstable in the cores of stars and are not formed there.

        The chemical toxicity of uranium in coal ash is of far more health consequence than the radiotoxicity however.

        Some uranium ash may be useful in the future as a source of uranium, since it is a low grade ore.

  •  Thanks, I hadn't heard about this (15+ / 0-)

    Back when I was a teenager I was all about protesting the reopening of the number two nuclear facility at Watt's Bar.  Since then I've changed my tune a bit and decided that coal is a lot nastier.

    ---
    Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

    by VelvetElvis on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:04:44 PM PST

    •  Agree. Nuclear is superior. (8+ / 0-)

      The sheer volume of toxic coal waste is amazing.

      Per year in the US, 120 million tons of solid coal waste containing toxic heavy metals.  That sludge is stored in the environment and gets into the soil and water.

      To date the total amount of spent nuclear fuel from 104 nuclear plants putting out trillions of kWh is 55,000 tons that is always shielded and isolated and can be recycled into new fuel.

      The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

      by Plan9 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:03:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  photo here (7+ / 0-)

    http://www.tennessean.com/...

    this is going to take years to clean up

    ---
    Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

    by VelvetElvis on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:08:06 PM PST

  •  The 1972 spill in literature (12+ / 0-)

    There's an unforgettable, amazingly vivid description of the 1972 flood in the novel Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake.  It's one of the saddest and most affecting novels you'll ever come across, and it's a must-read for anyone who cares about what coal mining is doing to Appalachia.

    These are times that can't be weathered.

    by Scott in NAZ on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:09:41 PM PST

  •  Too bad it wasn't Clean Coal (5+ / 0-)

    then the rivers would be cleaner than before, right?

  •  Not good...at all. (6+ / 0-)

    this one is in the US..can you imagine how many happen around this planet in the third world where laws are less stringent that we NEVER hear about.

    What a disgusting mess.. I can almost hear the planet screaming..

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:16:21 PM PST

  •  I e-mailed The Cork (10+ / 0-)

    Hey Bob -- You're a solid GOP man.  Can we get LESS regulation and FEWER rules on these plants now?  That spill looked neat on TV and I want to see more.

    Also, you gonna ask Toyota to cut worker pay now that they are losing their corporate shirt?  After all, it must be the assembly line's fault, those damn non-union slackers!

    Keep it up, Corker.  Soon the GOP will be down to about 35 permanent Senators and about 150 in the House.  THE COUNTRY IS ON TO YOU PEOPLE!!!

    Wingnuts, asshats, losers: your time is OVER ...

    by Tuffie on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:18:02 PM PST

    •  This was his response to me... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tonyahky, raincrow, Rustbelt Dem

      I sent him something about the sludge spill.  Here's what he said back today:

      Dear Mr. Vos,

      Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding government loans to major American automakers. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

      I appreciate the contributions to the American economy that have been made by General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler. These companies and their suppliers employ many Tennesseans and make up a sizeable and valuable portion of our state's manufacturing and retail sectors.

      The initial loan request proposed by the Detroit automakers was weak and offered no assurance that investing billions of taxpayer dollars in their companies was a responsible use of federal funds. I was convinced that if we in Congress had given funding to these companies, without them making needed changes, they would be back again in a few months asking for more public support. I also believed that the companies simply could not continue as they were and remain viable.

      The White House then negotiated a proposal with House Democrats that would divert $14 billion from a previously passed fund intended to be used for environmentally friendly re-tooling of auto factories. Under the new plan, the money could instead be used to help these companies solve their financial problems but without forcing them to make the tough changes necessary for them to be viable for the long term. They would then be allowed to return with a plan for further funding at the end of March of 2009.

      This was simply unacceptable. Under terms like these, all three would be back seeking additional funds over and over again. I firmly believed that we should use this crisis to force these companies to solve decades-old problems which kept them from being viable. As the negotiations moved to the Senate, I proposed a compromise measure designed to help them address their crippling debt and high labor costs that are not sustainable long term.

      My plan to address these problems incorporated a number of elements that would normally be a part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding but avoided the stigma of Chapter 11. First, each company's outstanding debt had to be reduced by two-thirds. To give you a sense of the magnitude of this problem, GM has $62 billion in debt, a market value of $2 billion and certainly no ability to pay the debt service on that obligation even in good economic times. You can see that putting any U.S. taxpayer loan on top of this debt load would be putting good money after bad. In my plan, through a bond-for-equity exchange, debt holders had to agree to take equity and reduce the debt of the company by two-thirds by March 15 or the company would be forced to go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On top of the other management concessions in the base bill, management and other existing shareholders would be taking a huge stock dilution. Second, half of the Voluntary Employment Benefits Association (VEBA) payments by the companies to the United Auto Workers (UAW) had to be taken in the form of stock. For each company the VEBA obligation is different, but in the case of General Motors, the VEBA debt owed is more than $20 billion. Because the bond for equity exchange would have occurred first, the debt of each company would have already been significantly reduced and the stock the UAW would be taking would have real value. Finally, the UAW wages and benefits for active employees (not retirees who had already been granted benefit packages) would need to be brought into a competitive range with American workers of foreign automakers in this country. In the original plan, all of these conditions had to be finalized by March 31, 2009 or the company would be forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

      We worked quickly to involve all interested parties in the negotiations for this deal-from the UAW, to bondholders, to senators on the other side of the aisle, to the companies themselves. In the end, the debt for equity issue was agreed to along with the VEBA accounts taking half cash and half stock. Unfortunately, the UAW refused to agree to a date certain by which their labor costs would be made competitive with companies like Toyota, Honda, BMW and Nissan who have operations in the United States, as certified by the Secretary of Labor (who will be appointed by President-elect Obama). In the end we were willing to accept any date in 2009 by which these changes would take effect (still having to be agreed to by March 31), but the UAW refused and the negotiations finally broke down. Without UAW support, there was no chance for the Democratic support necessary for passage. For us, this issue was never about trying to place the blame on any one party, but using this crisis to put in place shared sacrifices to cause these companies to be viable, while protecting any investment from taxpayers.

      Because we were not able to bring negotiations to a conclusion, the original White House and House Democrat bill was then brought to the floor and voted down. Afterwards, President Bush announced that the Treasury Department would offer a total of $17.4 billion in bridge loans to General Motors and Chrysler. The loans will be distributed from Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds, originally intended for financial institutions. Unfortunately, after months of debate and numerous proposals, we have ended up with an agreement open to interpretation, that eliminates the sense of crisis, where taxpayer dollars are expended and we are left to hope that the next administration has the will to enforce the tough concessions necessary to make these companies viable for the long term. Obviously, we are disappointed. A better solution would have been definite terms, within a finite time period, committed to law, that protected taxpayers. However, we hope to work with the next administration to enforce the tough concessions necessary to make these companies viable for the long term.

      Thank you again for your letter. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me as I serve you in the United States Senate.

      Sincerely,

      Bob Corker
      United States Senator

      Justice, mercy, tolerance, hope, love, grace, and redemption are all Judeo-Christian values.

      by Benintn on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:47:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Terrible Disaster (8+ / 0-)

    I'm sure FEMA and the Bushies are taking care of it pronto. Who could have predicted the breech of a toxic pond?

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

    by rlharry on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:19:35 PM PST

  •  Also (5+ / 0-)

    Buffalo Creek Disaster is about lawsuits that arose from 1972 breach. Gerald Stern is the author.

    Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    by hopeful on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:20:58 PM PST

  •  Bad. But let's not get crazy. (7+ / 0-)

    Let's not compare this to the Valdez please.  This is fly ash.  Think of a dam bursting, and the damage caused by the flood. That's what you have here. With very very dirty water.  But it's just ash.   A few months and all you will see is flood damage.  Noone has to evacuate because there is ash on the ground.  Millions of birds aren't going to die.

    From the wiki:

    Environmental problems
    Fly ash, like soil, contains trace concentrations of many heavy metals that are known to be detrimental to health in sufficient quantities. These include nickel, vanadium, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, barium, chromium, copper, molybdenum, zinc, lead, selenium, uranium, thorium, and radium. Though these elements are found in extremely low concentrations in fly ash, their mere presence has prompted some to sound alarm.

    The U.S. House of Representatives held an oversight hearing on the Federal government's role in addressing health and environmental risks of fly ash.[15] The United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ has said in the past that coal fly ash does not need to be regulated as a hazardous waste.[16] However, a revised risk assessment may change the way CCW is regulated.[17] Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey and others conclude that fly ash compares with common soils or rocks and should not be the source of alarm.[18] However, community and environmental organizations have documented numerous environmental contamination and damage concerns.[19][20] [21] Fly ash also "contains up to 100 times more radiation than nuclear waste." [22]

    I'm not trying to say this isn't a mess that needs to be cleaned up, but to compare it to an Oil spill is just disengenuous.  It's a mess, but it's not nearly as bad as an oil spill.

    For the Record, I grew up in Morgan County, one county over from the Kingston plant in Roane County.  I drive right by the plant on the way to my sister's house.  I'm going there on Christmas day, and I will try to to get a first-hand look at the damage while I'm there and write about it.

    LostBoyJim

    •  The Truth Is Toxic (9+ / 0-)

      So that Wikipedia article says that government agencies that cost corporations money report fly ash is harmless, but Scientific American says it's more hazardous than nuclear waste (which isn't hazardous).

      I'd bet on Scientific American. Especially since their numbers come from the Oak Ridge National Lab, which researched Tennessee coal plants' fly ash specifically.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:31:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  what are the ppm of those metals in the ash (5+ / 0-)

        and what are they in common soils?

        A much bigger issue is the alkalinity of many types of coal and fly ash.  A spill of fairly fresh ash is like dumping a big load of slaked lime into a river, the increase in pH is bad to fatal for animals and plants.

        •  One Fish Kill, Coming Up (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          murrayewv, Neon Mama, Abra Crabcakeya

          /...the increase in pH is bad to fatal for animals and plants./

          Here's your fish kill.

          Ecological collapse is already happening. Your resentment of the word doesn't change the fact that it is occurring.

          by Dem in Knoxville on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:49:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  some coal..... (0+ / 0-)

          has arsenic in parts per thousand.  

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 07:00:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  depends on how much metal..... (0+ / 0-)

          was in the coal that was burned and how well the scrubbers actually pulled out the ash.  Some coal has a LOT of arsenic- in parts per thousand.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 07:03:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  my point was that no numbers were given (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9, murrayewv

            some fly ash is used to absorb toxic metals from water, other can release it, many do neither to any great extent.  Without knowing the numbers making statements on toxic metal impact are WAG not really based in reality.

            I've read way too many screeds on this or that having toxic element {fill in blank} in it, only to discover that the concentrations were around that in typical soils, or seawater for some effluents.  Need to focus on the cases where the concentrations are actually significantly greater than the norm, or at least label it as a possible problem when values aren't known.  Dumping that much plain old mud into a river would do damage, no toxins required; that alone is plenty to get wound up about.

      •  sci-am article (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, SDorn, raincrow

        http://www.sciam.com/...

        The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maintains an online database of fly ash–based uranium content for sites across the U.S. In most areas, the ash contains less uranium than some common rocks. In Tennessee's Chattanooga shale, for example, there is more uranium in phosphate rock.

        and

        The result: estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities. At one extreme, the scientists estimated fly ash radiation in individuals' bones at around 18 millirems ... a year. Doses for the two nuclear plants, by contrast, ranged from between three and six millirems for the same period.
        ...
        McBride and his co-authors estimated that individuals living near coal-fired installations are exposed to a maximum of 1.9 millirems of fly ash radiation yearly. To put these numbers in perspective, the average person encounters 360 millirems of annual "background radiation" from natural and man-made sources, including substances in Earth's crust, cosmic rays, residue from nuclear tests and smoke detectors.

        So high end of 18 millirems vs 360 millirems, higher if you live in the mountains; lower estimate is a tenth of that.  Not truly more radioactive than nuclear waste, rather your likely exposure is greater for fly ash than nuke waste.  

        •  Annual exposure from coal-fired plants (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wondering if, Futuristic Dreamer

          1-4 millirem per year on average exposure to public.

          Annual exposure from nuclear plants on average: 0.009 millirem.

          Exposure from eating one banana:  0.01 millirem.

          The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

          by Plan9 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:10:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  exposure from using computer monitor (CRT) (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9, murrayewv, Futuristic Dreamer

            0.1 mrem, from watching TV 1 mrem.

            The EPA radiation dose calculator puts the coal plant yearly does at 0.03 mrem, if you're within 50 miles. So there's a largish disagreement on the dose that would be interesting to resolve.

            •  Dose to lung is 1-4 millirem (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              murrayewv, Futuristic Dreamer

              depending on the uranium and thorium content of the coal burned in your neighborhood.  There are general dose calculations and then there are specific organ dose calculations.

              Typical annual exposures can including the following sources:

                     * Cosmic rays, 28 millirem
                     * Rocks and soil, 28 millirem
                     * Medical x-rays, 39 millirem
                     * Nuclear medicine, 14 millirem
                     * Radon, 200 millirem (average U.S.)
                     * Radon, 100 millirem (average Berkeley)
                     * Radium wrist watch, 3 millirem
                     * Tritium wrist watch, .6 millirem
                     * Radium dial alarm clocks, .7 to .9    millirem
                     * Cigarettes (1 1/2 packs day, to lung), 8,000 millirem
                       Building materials, masonry, 7 millirem
                       Road construction materials, 4 millirem
                       Coal-fired power plant, to lung, 1 to 4 millirem
                       Cooking with natural gas stove, 6 to 9 millirem

              Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

              The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

              by Plan9 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:51:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Not Bathing in a Sludge Tank (0+ / 0-)

            Why are you comparing the average public annual exposure, which is all 300M Americans, no matter how far from a coal plant they live, with the exposure from this concentrated spill piling the sludge deep on a town?

            Unless you just want to make up numbers to say that "coal is safe".

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:20:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agree that concentrated spill higher (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RosyFinch

              in exposure to radionuclides.  

              The presumption is annual exposure to persons living within a 50-mile radius of coal-fired plants. This would be considered low dose.  The exposure to radiation is greater in areas where coal rich in uranium and thorium is burned--like the 4 Corners region.

              The exposure to the Tenn. coal sludge is likely to be more chemically toxic than radiologically toxic.

              The Chinese are apparently now mining coal waste for uranium-235 concentrated by coal combustion.  Oh, and coal waste in China kills about 400,000 people a year.

              Oak Ridge National Lab report on coal's nuclear waste.

              The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

              by Plan9 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:42:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Coal Fly ash is a human carcinogen and (5+ / 0-)

      the dust spreads on the wind across a large area.

      Fly ash contains silica toxins and when there is high exposure (like this case) it causes airway obstruction (pulmonary effects).

      And, the contaminants from coal fly ash get into the water supply causing risk to infants and those with kidney and liver disease.

      <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

      by bronte17 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:45:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's sand. (0+ / 0-)

        Fine particulate sand.  You'd get the same effects near any place with serious dust storms.

        •  Just sand. Says who? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          churchylafemme

          A couple of university staff with a grant from King Coal?

          Coal fly ash comes from coal that is heated to a very high temperature. Coal gets hotter than hellfire itself. Dust storms are not the glassy crystalline silica from burned coal. Crystalline silica is sharp and pointed and causes severe lung damage.

          And, if "it's just sand" then why does it contaminate water supplies with arsenic and heavy metals that pose severe health hazards to people?

          <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

          by bronte17 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 07:11:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fly Ash isn't particularly controversial... (0+ / 0-)

            ...I'm familiar with it because of it's uses in construction (and have personally used a fair amount of it myself.)  

            Heavy metals and arsenic occur in coal naturally (varies by coal source), and thus are often present in fly ash after said coal is burnt.  The USGS didn't find them to be more common in fly ash than natural soils.

            Fly ash grains are more spherical and less jagged than "traditional" sands.

            •  Coal fly ash from those power plants is NOT (0+ / 0-)

              all spherical.  It is the "sharp, pointed and hazardous particles" of crystalline formed in that mixture of particles from fly ash. There are several classes of fly ash, depending on the type of coal burned and coal fly ash does cause bronchitis and lung disease in humans.

              ...We conclude that particulate air pollutants are associated with metals which have a capacity to catalyze electron transfer. An in vitro measure of oxidant production increased with ionizable concentrations of the metals. Indices of in vivo lung injury also corresponded to concentrations of these same metals.

              This review considers the molecular toxicology of combustion-derived nanoparticles (CDNP) following inhalation exposure. CDNP originate from a number of sources and in this review we consider diesel soot, welding fume, carbon black and coal fly ash. A substantial literature demonstrates that these pose a hazard to the lungs through their potential to cause oxidative stress, inflammation and cancer; they also have the potential to redistribute to other organs following pulmonary deposition. These different CDNP show considerable heterogeneity in composition and solubility, meaning that oxidative stress may originate from different components depending on the particle under consideration. Key CDNP-associated properties of large surface area and the presence of metals and organics all have the potential to produce oxidative stress. CDNP may also exert genotoxic effects, depending on their composition. CDNP and their components also have the potential to translocate to the brain and also the blood, and thereby reach other targets such as the cardiovascular system, spleen and liver. CDNP therefore can be seen as a group of particulate toxins unified by a common mechanism of injury and properties of translocation which have the potential to mediate a range of adverse effects in the lungs and other organs and warrant further research.

              Nanoparticles are defined as primary particles with at least one dimension < 100 nm, while ultrafine particles are defined as particles <100 nm in all dimensions (W Kreyling, personal communication) and are commonly produced by combustion processes [1,2]. Like other nanoparticles, CDNP agglomerate readily and move into the accumulation mode which decreases the particle number but probably leaves the surface area dose unaffected. NP have the ability to cause inflammation and also, in the case of insoluble CDNP, have potential to escape from the site of deposition in the lungs and translocate to the blood and to other target organs [13]. The exemplar CDNP discussed here (Table 1) include welding fume and nanoparticulate carbon black, which are both occupational hazards, coal fly-ash which is an environmental hazard and diesel soot which is both an environmental and an occupational hazard. CDNP are primary in the sense that they arise directly from the combustion process, although their chemistry may change with aging as the particles undergo chemical interactions with components of the ambient air pollution cloud. The process of burning concentrates metals, due to combustion and hence degradation of the organic fraction to a degree that is dependent on the efficiency of the combustion. At the same time pyrolysis chemistry generates other complex organic molecules, some of which may persist along with elemental carbon nanoparticles. Nanoparticles also form from atmospheric chemistry e.g. sulphate and nitrate nanoparticles but these will not be discussed here as they are not derived directly from combustion. The combustion materials and the mode of combustion will ultimately determine the characteristics of the CDNP, including chemical composition, particle size and particle solubility. The large surface area of CDNP presents maximal opportunity for dissolution of soluble species from the surface of the insoluble core. For insoluble NP, the large surface area provides a surface on which catalytic chemistry can occur that favours the formation of free radicals. These free radicals are responsible for driving oxidative stress, the underlying mechanism that promotes an inflammatory response to CDNP. For a range of low toxicity, low solubility particle types the surface area alone is the driver for lung inflammation following instillation in rats [14]. CDNP may be soluble and release transition metals or organics as their primary pro-inflammatory mechanism. Both transition metals and organics can undergo complex cyclical chemical reactions in the milieu of the lungs that lead to the production of free radicals such as superoxide anion or hydroxyl radical [15-17]. By contrast low toxicity insoluble particles cause inflammation because of their surfaces; some types of CDNP have both soluble components and an insoluble core.</p>

              ...Coal fly ash-exposed rats have been shown to exhibit increased susceptibility to infection [57], while a specially-prepared cloud of ultrafine (nanoparticulate) coal fly ash induced adverse effects on guinea pig lung function [58]. A recent study systematically examined the effect of fractionated coal fly ash in pulmonary inflammation and a nanoparticle fraction was available [12]. This study showed greatly enhanced potency of the nanoparticulate fraction compared to the fine and coarse fractions, as seen by enhanced ability to cause lung inflammation and kill macrophages in culture. The nanoparticle fraction was not especially enriched for toxic metals and the increased toxicity of this fraction may be a result of the high surface area, allowing redox reactions to take place.

              <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

              by bronte17 on Fri Dec 26, 2008 at 04:45:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  let's not get crazy? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, emmasnacker, swvadem

      Tell you what - you go look at the damage, and take a big swig of the water.

      Then tell me not to get crazy.

      There is a time and place for outrage.

      This is that time.  This is that place.

      Justice, mercy, tolerance, hope, love, grace, and redemption are all Judeo-Christian values.

      by Benintn on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:48:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I just edited Wikipedia to take out the line (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, murrayewv

      about fly ash being 100x more radioactive than radioactive waste, because that statement defies logic, and is a willful misinterpretation of the Sci-America article. If it was only 10x more radioactive than high level nuclear waste (the implication), it could be used as nuclear fuel it's self.  To be a 100x more radioactive, it would have to be sun plasma, and it's not.  However, that doesn't make it safe.

      "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding." ~Albert Einstein

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:56:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ITs innumerancy..... (0+ / 0-)

        they are probably saying the waste produces more radioactivity, but it is fairly diluted.  Ask the flooded people just how dilution makes them feel now though.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:58:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They're probably grateful that a 50 mile radius (0+ / 0-)

          around the spill won't be a toxic hazard for thousands of years.  Like it would be if this had been a nuclear disaster.

          "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding." ~Albert Einstein

          by Futuristic Dreamer on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 08:31:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Please diary your experience in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv

      area!
      And don't drink the water....
      Those downstream.. it breaks my heart. Time to start a 20 year monitor... find those who did not get warned about the toxicity, those who did, but waded into it any way, to get the house cleaned out.... to get the stock taken care of... there will be terrible consequences, but it'll take a while.

  •  China (11+ / 0-)

    is a coal disaster of epic proportions. The plight of Chinese coal miners alone is staggering. With no environmental controls at all, one can only imagine how many of these disasters (or "deferred costs") have happened over there...

    •  India too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      supak, Unduna, raincrow

      as well as the former Eastern bloc countries.

      One big problem with EU efforts to address climate change is that the Eastern European states, lagging somewhat in economic and technological development, tend to use coal as the primary source of electricity, because it's cheap and they don't (yet) have easy alternatives.

  •  I also meant to mention (4+ / 0-)

    I looked at cnn.com to see if there was any additional news...not even a news story about it on the front page.

    typical.

    Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    by hopeful on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:22:56 PM PST

  •  It's horrible for the environment, but the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, DocGonzo, terabthia2

    people in this part of the country apparently like the no-regulation Republican rule that generally leads to this kind of "accident"  

    •  So it's the citizens fault? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, aimzzz

      Yeah, that works.

      "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

      by Unduna on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:38:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. The majority of TN citizens vote to continue (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marie

        TVA behavior and lack of concern for the environment.
        Just like WV.  Destruction of whole mountains to get at the coal really bothers most of the country, but WV citizens don't seem to care.  
        They make their choices and shouldn't complain too much when this happens because they knew it was possible but still did not put it very high on the list of priorities.  
        Can't have it both ways.  Either elect state government that cares about this stuff or live with the consequences.  

        •  How dare you let Republicans be in control (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aimzzz, raincrow

          for the last eight years.

          The Iraq war is your fault, and so are the regulatory disasters. Everything else those repugs did is your faul, too.

          Enjoy your guilt.

          "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

          by Unduna on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:03:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But you are right. I, along with many other (0+ / 0-)

            Americans didn't do as much as we could have to get rid of bush in 2004.  EVERYONE who voted for him and EVERYONE who had the idea that he was incompetent and a war criminal and still didn't speak out as much as possible has a hand in everything that's happened.  EVERY American who didn't do all they could to get rid of Bush/Cheney after the whole AbuGarab nightmare is equally at fault.  EVERY American who doesn't call their congresspeople or protest in some way about Guantanamo each week that prisoners are still held there is responsible for those lives.  YOU are responsible, too.

            I don't feel guilty tho.  I just hope that repubs continue to get these plumb earmarks like toxic fly ash basins built by their homes and not mine.  

        •  TVA is Federal, not State. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unduna, raincrow
        •  Don't remember TVA ever being up for a vote here. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unduna, raincrow

          It's a federal program, started well before I was born.  We vote on a lot of things, but this isn't one of them.  Your brush is just a little too broad.

          "And God separated the light from the dark, and did two loads of laundry"

          by Fiddlegirl on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:47:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It was created under Roosevelt for dual purpose (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Marie, raincrow

            of flood control & electrification. There was very little electricity here & people's crops were destroyed on a regular basis. TVA had a positive influence but later ran amok trying to justify it's existence by damming ever river in the state & imposing expensive nuclear plants. Once was an incredible inexpensive source of electricity

        •  uh.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RosyFinch

          we care but we don't own the mineral rights and the coal companies own the courts.  

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:56:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Hey Meggie (8+ / 0-)

      ...not all of us.

      Us lonely progressives in East TN look on this as a "teachable moment." (he said, uttering one of those not-ha-ha-funny kind of half-laughs, half-sighs...)

      Ecological collapse is already happening. Your resentment of the word doesn't change the fact that it is occurring.

      by Dem in Knoxville on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:53:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Holy crud (8+ / 0-)

    They will never find a Christmas stocking big enough to hold all that coal.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

    by Joe Bob on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:31:27 PM PST

  •  Both of the (6+ / 0-)

    diaries on this need to be rec'd up. This is a very important story. Especially, with all of the disinformation ads being run by the coal industry.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:34:29 PM PST

  •  That's my steam plant (18+ / 0-)

    That's the plant I get my power from.  I live less than eight miles away; there's a little park next to the steam plant where I'll sometimes take my dogs.

    I moved here from California five years ago.  After I'd lived here a while, I asked a local guy why my (white) gutters and trim had turned gray in less than a year after they were installed.  He looked at me like I was an ignoramus.

    "Acid rain," he said, like everybody should know that.

    •  I grew up in Rockwood ~10 miles away (7+ / 0-)

      It's on the TVA flood plains & the area had become an ad hoc wildlife sanctuary. The disaster resulted from engineering & heavy rains.
      Above average all month. We've had a couple of days off, but it's supposed to start again tomorrow & continue at least through Saturday. Some rain & sleet today.

      •  I know (5+ / 0-)

        Coming from California, I'm still having trouble getting used to all this rain, even five years later.  Jeebus!  My whole yard is mud!

        Think yesterday's hard freeze had anything to do with it?  Rain, rain, rain, rain, and then suddenly it's 12 degrees and the soaked ground freezes solid.  That can't be good for structural integrity.

        •  Drought, then rain, then freeze (8+ / 0-)

          Droughts typically cause foundations to settle as the ground contracts, and I'd expect the same for other types of constructions - like the dam holding in this 40-acre ash pond.  We've had a severe drought here over the last year and a half, which has only broken with the heavy rains of the last month.  Had a total of maybe eight inches of rain in my yard here in nearby western Knox County (Knoxville) in the last two weeks; add the heaving of frozen ground (it was in the teens the night the pond failed) and it's the most likely time for this thing to go, especially as there are reports on the blogs of smaller problems (e.g. leakage flowing across the road) before this event.

          Ecological collapse is already happening. Your resentment of the word doesn't change the fact that it is occurring.

          by Dem in Knoxville on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:00:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  After several years of drought we suddenly (4+ / 0-)

          have an over-abundance. Last year was closer to normal but there had been a decade or more of drought. I grew up here but lived elsewhere for years. This month is representative of my memories of Februarys. I think Dem in Knoxville (below) is spot on. Shoddy engineering over-stressed by
          drought, drought, rain, rain, rain, rain

        •  Welcome to East TN! Don't like the weather? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Abra Crabcakeya

          Wait about 12 hours! (It will be in the 50s tomorrow.)

          My mom didn't believe me, even after hearing me bitch about the weather for 25 years. Then she moved down here... and started bitching just like me... and learned to wait 12 hours, just like old timers have always said.

          Give it 12-40 years; you'll eventually get used to it.

          ;D

    •  Yup. One of my first jobs was at an oil-fired (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, peraspera, aimzzz, RosyFinch

      plant.  For some reason the utility found it easier and cheaper to pay employees and local residents for damage when the weather kept fly ash close to the ground rather than lifting it up to be someone else's problem.  LOTS of money spent on auto repaints, replaced clothing (from hanging on the line in the back yard...) and home repairs.  

  •  They better hope for no heavy rain (8+ / 0-)

    or those heavy metals will be in the groundwater for a long long time.

    We need another "This is clean coal" ad, with the desert background replaced by this.

    The W ... it stands for Wrong.

    by nosleep4u on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:38:48 PM PST

  •  To add insult to injury (15+ / 0-)

    BushCo just made it easier to pollute our rivers as streams with coal mountaintop removal debris.

    The Bush administration finalized rules yesterday that will make it easier for mountaintop mining companies to dump their waste near rivers and streams, overhauling a 25-year-old prohibition that has sparked legal and regulatory battles for years.

    The regulation got signoffs from the Office of Management and Budget and the Environmental Protection Agency this week and will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The change is intended to resolve a nearly five-year-old fight over how companies can dispose of the vast amounts of rubble and sludge created when they blow the tops off mountains to get to the coal buried below, although the incoming Obama administration could revisit the issue.

    .

  •  Corker... will he get it? (5+ / 0-)

    Not holding my breath. Right now, he should be at home... he's a former mayor of Chattanooga, directly downstream, maybe 70 miles.
    (I tried- had the privilege of campaigning for his opponent, ironically named Ford)

  •  I'm just going to take this moment to say... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, lump1, VelvetElvis

    this is another reason why the left should get behind nuclear power!!

    One for the doctor who cures disease; and one for the lorax who speaks for the trees. Fitz's Blog

    by fitz2 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:05:07 PM PST

    •  Dems do support nuclear power (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VelvetElvis, fitz2

      Check out Pro-Nuclear Dems.

      Recent Zogby poll says 49% of Dems are OK with nuclear.  Overall, 67% of all Americans support nuclear power.

      The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

      by Plan9 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:23:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are you crazy? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      canyonrat

      This is why we should get behind nuclear power?  All I can think while reading this is how lucky we are such an accident happened at a coal plant and not a nuclear plant. If this was a nuclear plant it would have been another Chernobyl.  How lucky we are that's not what happened.

      "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding." ~Albert Einstein

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:41:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nuclear plants don't store sludge out in the open (0+ / 0-)

        Chernobyl had no containment.

        All nuclear reactors in the US are enclosed in thick-walled steel vessels inside huge containment buildings with walls 4-6 feet thick.  If you learn how a nuclear plant works you will find out that no sludge is generated.  No slurry is generated.  

        We had a meltdown in the US at Three Mile Island.  The containment worked just fine.

        About a dozen independent studies agree that there have been no physical health effects to the public from the TMI meltdown.

        The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

        by Plan9 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:04:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My point is that a nuclear accident would be (0+ / 0-)

          much worse that this.  So saying this accident is a reason we should support nuclear power doesn't make sense.

          I'm not against nuclear power, I'm against accidents at power plants.  Nuclear power is like flying, the chances of an accident may be lower, but the consequences of an accident are higher.

          "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding." ~Albert Einstein

          by Futuristic Dreamer on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:02:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not so (0+ / 0-)

            Nuclear reactors were designed, constructed, and tested with the idea of accidents occurring.  At a national lab the reactors were pushed beyond their limits, deliberately made to have meltdowns, etc. This is how the containment structures that surround the reactor were devised.

            The nuclear Navy has operated a total of 254 reactors over a period of four decades plus without any reactor accidents.  

            With natural gas and coal-fired plants, the assumption is that they won't have accidents.  But they do.  Steam explosions, for example.

            According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics nuclear power's accident rate is extremely low--lower than that of the manufacturing, real estate, and banking industries.

            Incidentally, 24,000 deaths a year from coal-fired plants translates into a slow and constant catastrophe associated with half of our electricity production.  The Chernobyl accident was horrible, but keep in mind that there was no reactor containment, that 51 died while working right in the reactor building either outright or trying to extinguish the fire.  Another 9 died of exposure to radioactive iodine that led to thyroid cancer.  And Chernobyl is the absolute worst kind of nuclear plant accident imaginable.

            Nuclear plants cannot blow up atomically.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 06:22:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Do people fear nuclear because of fiction? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9

              How many fictional nuclear reactors have exploded atomically?  (I know at least one - the nuclear desalination plant in the Thunderbirds episode "The Mighty Atom")

            •  I don't trust Bush's regulators to prevent (0+ / 0-)

              nuclear accidents.

              "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding." ~Albert Einstein

              by Futuristic Dreamer on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 04:46:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Bush will be in office less than 1 more month (0+ / 0-)

                For eight years there has been no reactor failure in the US as a result of the horrible behavior of the Bush administration.  The Nuclear Regulatory is a bipartisan, independent regulatory commission.  Bush could not push the NRC around even if he tried.

                Obama certainly understands the importance of regulation and accountability.

                There are many, many vigilant people making sure nuclear plants are run safely. The proof:  Not one member of the American public has died as the result of the operation of commercial nuclear power, ever.  And the first commercial nuclear plant started operating in the 1950s.  The people who work at nuclear plants live nearby with their families.  The operators in the control room have to spend one week of each month working out on simulators the way airline pilots must do.

                Perhaps you might want to learn how a nuclear plant works and what the safety procedures are, and the backup systems, and the backup systems for the backup systems, and the constant security and safety checks.

                The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                by Plan9 on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 08:42:21 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  do you not read? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9

        I'm not advocating for building plants like Chernobyl, but even there, 58 people died. That many people die each month in a Chinese coal mine. Aren't you fucking outraged? No, you don't give a shit.

        You think you know science because someone once told you a scary story about nuclear power. Behold the alternative.

        •  And how many died here? (0+ / 0-)

          A lot less than 58 I believe.

          What about how many people die in car accidents in South America?  "You don't give a shit." That's why you're not out campaigning against cars world wide.

          As for Chinese cold miners - I don't live in China, I don't support their mining practices, which are purely a regulatory issue there. I have a problem with people who put profit above worker safety. In Chinese coal mines or anywhere else.

          "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding." ~Albert Einstein

          by Futuristic Dreamer on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:19:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  CNN right now is covering Pat Robertson (7+ / 0-)

    and his oh-so-newsworthy condemnation of gays in the military. Headline News is talking about some murdered girl. MSNBC is covering political stuff. Why isn't this on every news channel?

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:18:35 PM PST

  •  With all due respect, (7+ / 0-)

    as devastating as this event is don't tell me that this horrible event is many times bigger than the Exxon Valdez. There is a huge difference between something like this and an environmental catastrophe at sea.

    The sheen and mouse spread over a 470-mile trajectory from Prince William Sound to the Alaska Peninsula. 790 miles of Prince William Sound coastline were oiled, of which 200 miles were heavily oiled. In the Kenai Peninsula-Kodiak region, more than 2,400 miles of coastline were oiled. The damage to wild life was high; 100,000-300,000 birds and 2,650 sea otters were killed, and fishing was severely impacted.

    Twenty years on and fisheries still have not recovered, killer whales in Prince William Sound are in distress and sea otters never recovered.

    The great tragedy of Science, the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. T. H. Huxley

    by realalaskan on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:23:15 PM PST

    •  wait and see ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, murrayewv, raincrow

      when the chemicals get into the water supply up here, you'll see.

      Oil is harder to clean up than sludge, but only because oil and water don't mix.

      Justice, mercy, tolerance, hope, love, grace, and redemption are all Judeo-Christian values.

      by Benintn on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:12:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hydrocarbons are (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SDorn, RosyFinch

        still present in the affected areas of Alaska and are being detected in not inconsequential concentrations. This oil spill was never "cleaned up". Oil is still on the beaches. And by beaches, around these parts that means rocky coastline with thousands of miles of exposure and a tidal range of up to 20 feet. Total devastation of all living organism occurred in these intertidal zones.

        I still think the diarist's title is not an accurate statement.

        The great tragedy of Science, the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. T. H. Huxley

        by realalaskan on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:20:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Two wrongs don't make a right..... (0+ / 0-)

          Frankly an oil spill would attract more attention.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:51:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gee, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv

            our sig lines are both by a Huxley. Aldous would be T. H. Huxley's grandson.

            I don't deny the devastation of this event but I still think it not comparable to the Exxxxon-Valdez. Nor do I think two wrongs make a right. Just feel the analogy is inappropriate. My personal opinion.

            The great tragedy of Science, the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. T. H. Huxley

            by realalaskan on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 08:23:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It is attention grabbing..... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              realalaskan

              and coal and its problems is not on America's radar.  Frankly the analogy is more like the destruction of the tundra from the pipeline- which leaks and pollutes every single day.  So when you total that up, it is worse.  

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 05:10:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Santa Will Put Coal In Your Stocking.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, Fiddlegirl, terabthia2

    Clean coal. Picking on those poor environment raping coal companies. Don't you know they provide jobs to thousands of coal miners? Good jobs. With great working conditions. Fantastic retirement packages for those who make it to 65 without dying in a hole or coughing a black lung up.

    "But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope." Barack Obama

    by Sam James on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:24:20 PM PST

  •  marsh fork (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    littlesky, peraspera, aimzzz, tonyahky

    i hope this never happens at marsh fork elementary in sundial, wv, where they have been warning of the dangers of a coal sludge impoundment for years

  •  There is clean coal... (7+ / 0-)

    I grew up in homes heated with clean coal.  It's called anthracite.  (Another name is hard coal.)

    Back in the day when most homes were heated with coal, Philadelphia and New York were relatively clean because they burned coal from the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania.  Pittsburgh, on the other hand, was filthy because it burned bituminous (soft) coal mined locally and nearby in West Virginia.

    Anthracite was so clean that a railroad created the fictional advertising character of "Phoebe Snow" who bragged that her dress stayed white on the road of anthracite.

    As of now, anthracite is only available in Northeast Pennsylvania and Southern Wales.  There ought to be a way to clean up bituminous or to find new deposits of anthracite somewhere in the world.

    My personal testimonial for anthracite is that I had bad allergies as a child and was not bothered by anthracite burning in our basement furnace.  I have even handled chunks of anthracite from our coal bin and never got so much as a smudge on my fingers.  Anthracite is virtually pure carbon and burns blue.

    Can't we find some more?

  •  They call that a storage "POND"? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, skertso, ohcanada, tonyahky

    That's one big-ass, nasty "pond"! It's bad, not just for the people, but I also feel for the critters that were (and are) caught in that crap.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:41:06 PM PST

    •  Canada's tar sands (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wisewood

      1.4 trillion gallons of toxic horror covering 20 plus square miles. If they ever fail and rupture into permafrost you can kiss a whole lot of birds, fish and animals goodbye, even now birds in the thousands are dying, they are on bird migration paths.

      We let our governments do this to our land and we have been sleeping.

      Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

      by ohcanada on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 07:02:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We've got many friends in East TN (Knox Co.) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skertso, zett, aimzzz

    This is really concerning...

    The superior man...does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is right he will follow. --Kongfuzi

    by free as a butterfly on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:52:27 PM PST

    •  They they shouldn't be effected (0+ / 0-)

      It shouldn't have any quality of life or health impact on people outside the immediate area.  The environmental consequences could be far greater.

      While this is still a huge tragedy that will have ripples in the surrounding ecosystem for years, the diary headline is needlessly alarmist, IMHO.  

      ---
      Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

      by VelvetElvis on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:26:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  An upstream mentality (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv, terabthia2

        the diary headline is needlessly alarmist, IMHO.

        We all know NIMBY, but this is an example of DHIMBY: Didn't happen in my backyard (so it's not important).

        Virginia is for Voters!

        by swvadem on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:06:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not bigger than the valdez (0+ / 0-)

          ---
          Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

          by VelvetElvis on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:39:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well Inez KY was..... (0+ / 0-)

            and do you know about that one?

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:47:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Just from comments here (0+ / 0-)

              by what metric was it bigger?

              ---
              Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

              by VelvetElvis on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 07:14:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  volume of liquid spilled.... (0+ / 0-)

                not to mention number of people and animals affected.

                750 million gallons of coal slurry was dumped into nearby streams and rivers.

                Massey did, however, bear the cost of the cleanup, estimated at $46 million. It also paid the commonwealth of Kentucky $3.25 million, the state fish and wildlife service $225,000 and an undisclosed amount to area residents who sued.

                The company maintains that slurry is a benign, nontoxic substance, no more dangerous than dirt.

                During a raucous public meeting in April, a Kentucky Coal Association representative became angry and offered to eat some. Mr. McCoy, a citizen panelist at the meeting, has a jar of slurry saved in case the man decides to follow through.

                "It was like Jerry Springer," said Mrs. McCoy, exasperated.

                In the four years since the spill, which temporarily shut down five water-treatment plants as its black plume moved to the Ohio River, bottled water has become the largest section of the local grocery, she said.

                http://www.ohvec.org/...

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 08:17:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  From CNN story (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RosyFinch

                  Appalachian environmentalists compared the mess with another spill eight years ago in eastern Kentucky, where the bottom of a coal sludge impoundment owned by Massey Energy broke into an abandoned underground mine, oozing more than 300 million gallons of coal waste into tributaries.

                  The water supply for more than 25,000 residents was contaminated, and aquatic life in the area perished. It took months to clean up the spill.

                  "If the estimates are correct, this spill is one and a half times bigger," said Dave Cooper, an environmental advocate with the Mountaintop Removal Road Show, a traveling program that explains the effect of an extreme form of mining.

                  While the full scope of the TVA spill is being determined, coal critics are already concerned about its long-term effects.

                  Cleaning up the mess, which could fill nearly 800 Olympic-size swimming pools, could take months or years, Taylor said.

                  "We're very concerned about how long it's going to take" to clean the spill, she told CNN.

                  Cooper agreed, saying, "It's 4, 5 feet deep. How are you going to scoop it up? Where are you going to put it?"

                  http://www.cnn.com/...

                  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                  by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 08:25:59 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  but 99% of slurry is water (0+ / 0-)

                  0% of oil is water.  It makes a huge difference.

                  Slurry is dirty water.  Oil is oil.

                  ---
                  Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

                  by VelvetElvis on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 10:12:40 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  that's not to say it's not fucking nasty (0+ / 0-)

                    that's not to say it's not a disaster

                    but it's not the valdez

                    ---
                    Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

                    by VelvetElvis on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 10:13:48 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The dose makes the poison..... (0+ / 0-)

                      Here is a thought.  Do you have ANY idea howmany dams and ponds filled with this shit are teetering on a good solid rain to collapse them into a populated holler?  Have you got any idea how risky this is- and once spilled, how really impossible to clean up?  How gummed up the water processing plants of these towns- how crushing it is when the tax base sucks?

                      What made Exxon Valdez horrible in particular was the neglect of the problem- the drinking captain, the lack of the double hull.  When regulators know these places are leaking time bombs, how long does it take until one washes out a family, not just a family home and the road.  

                      My attitude- two wrongs don't make a right.  I agree we shouldn't focus on radioactivity in coal when that is really not its biggest problem- mining destruction, pollution from burning it (CO2, Mercury, particulates, etc.) and silt from washing it or accumulating the fly ash.  When you are affected as I am every day by this crap as a way of life, you realize there is a desperate need to conserve electricity and clean up after coal.  Coal can be a hell of a lot cleaner.

                      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                      by murrayewv on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 04:54:47 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

      •  What then, exactly, DO you get alarmed about? (0+ / 0-)

        While this ... will have ripples in the surrounding ecosystem for years...

        Virginia is for Voters!

        by swvadem on Fri Dec 26, 2008 at 05:25:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  it's a relatively common problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skertso, murrayewv

    and should be treated like plane crashes.

    Saw a show on Nat Geo recently about Stava, Trento, Italy slurry pool collapse and found a nice chronology of slurry pool collapses here (tks google)

    http://www.wise-uranium.org/...

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:05:09 PM PST

  •  Great (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, skertso, aimzzz, Ky DEM

    My in-laws live a couple miles down-river of the Kingston Steam Plant very near the merge of the Clinch and Tennessee rivers. Guess we won't be fishing for our Christmas dinner. :-(

  •  How Green Was My Valley (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, skertso, RosyFinch, Indexer

    a novel by Richard Llewellyn, tells a tale of a coal town disaster.  Read it when I was in jr. high.  I hope these folks aren't hurt as badly as those in Wales...

    -7.62, -7.28 "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:19:22 PM PST

  •  I posted this in response to a another thread on (11+ / 0-)

    this issue over a year ago, so forgive the cut-n-paste job please.

    . i'm going to add this little story here. In my former career, I worked as an environmental engineer for the oil/gas pipeline construction industry. We were installing a 20" gas line south of Logan, WVa., in the heart of coal country and surrounded by topless mountains. It was my task on one particular day to plan/design/implement the installation of this 20" pipe 8 ft. under a small creek. In order to accomplish this task, I had crews install 2 large steel plate on either side of the ditch we were about to dig in the stream. The two plates were connected by two large diameter flume pipes. The idea here is to dam the stream ( the 2 plates) but still allow normal stream flow downstream via the flume pipes. By doing this, there is almost ZERO downstream sedimentation from in stream construction. Basically, it allows you to work in a creek without significant environmental degredation.

    At some point during the installation process, I noticed that the flow of the creek had increased noticeably. Clear skies, no rain ...wtf? Then I noticed that the once clear water was now turning brown. WTF again. The creek rapidly deteriorated and was now flowing as a black goo, like pudding. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at this horror show. A local guy who was operating one of our excavators walked over to me and said he knew exactly what this was. He said that the coal company had cut their containment dams around their containment ponds. I asked him why would they do this, it defeats their purpose entirely. He said that they do this just prior to a federal environmental inspection, so the mine remains in compliance. I asked him how he knew this, and he said that it's usually his job.

    The irony of this situation was not lost on me. This was truly the beginning of the end of this line of work for me.

    •  And then to combat the acid.... (0+ / 0-)

      they throw in limestone.  Then the pH cycles from 3 to 10 in 24 hours sometimes.  Not so good for the fish gills, which work well between 6.5 and 7.5 pH.  Sucks to be a fish, eh.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:45:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank god for clean coal... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, skertso, joehoevah

    eye roll

    A United States Marine, still fighting for our Constitution and our country! I Support and Defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.

    by DemMarineVet on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:49:43 PM PST

  •  TVA Badly Needs Reform (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skertso, aimzzz

    More evidence that TVA just sucks.  All the arrogance of private industry and unresponsive public bureaucracy rolled into one dinosauric package.

    Their environmental record sucks -- they litigate and resist putting even basic pollution control technology on their power plants.  They fight with EPA and the US Dept of Justice, claiming autonomy (but claiming benefits private industry wouldn't get).

    TVA need to be fundamentally reformed.

    "Save it for 2050." -- Mark Penn (on Obama's electability)

    by throughaglassdarkly on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:54:22 PM PST

  •  This is truly terrible news... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skertso, rainmanjr

    ...maybe they'll vote BLUE next time (snark).

    In all seriousness, this is terrible.  The only slightly good thing about it is it covers only 400 acres...which is a little less than 2/3rds of a square mile...much less overall damage than the Valdez spill.

    It still sucks.

    "Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences." --Paradise50

    by paradise50 on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:32:40 PM PST

  •  Kick TVA Executives in the ASH HOLE! (0+ / 0-)
  •  Remember Buffalo Creek (3+ / 0-)
    I know many people who lost scores of relatives and friends.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

  •  Been working the problem since 6 am yesterday (10+ / 0-)

    Tragic.  Thankfully no loss of life.  I suggest knoxnews.com for the local blog on the problem.
    TDEC and EPA have been on site since yesterday morning.
    Water quality sampling is ongoing up and down the river.  No threat to drinking water intake exists at this time.
    TVA is buying homes.
    The land based plan is to remove the ash to native soil. This will take a few months.  The ash in Watts Bar Lake is a different and bigger problem.  Dredging it out seems like a simple solution, but there is a problem with the preexisting Manhattan Project nuclear contamination that already exists in the sediments.
    The rivers effected are the Clinch and Little Emory.  The biologic impact has been, and will continue to be, profound for some time to come.  Metals will be a long term problem, the short term problem is smothering of life and pH.
    Yup, this is a big deal, don't for a moment suspect that I am trivializing this.  Exxon Valdez in impact? Not a chance.

    You can't support the GOP and the Constitution at the same time!

    by Arsenic on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:22:01 PM PST

  •  How clean is this? n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, tommymet

    "And if my thought-dreams could be seen They'd probably put my head in a guillotine" Bob Dylan

    by shaharazade on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:38:21 PM PST

  •  No coverage on CNN, MSNBC, or Yahoo News. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aimzzz, Ky DEM, joehoevah, terabthia2

    This never happened, and this area of the country does not exist.

    Who was Bush_Horror2004, anyway?

    by Dartagnan on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:42:00 PM PST

  •  Hemp, hemp. (4+ / 0-)

    Hemp..hemp...

    hemp..hemp..hemp

    hemp..hemp.

    Hemp..hemp.

    Hemp..hemp,

    hemp..hemp..hemp..hemp..hemp.

    (bio-degradable plastic?  you must be kidding me)

    "Yes dear. Conspiracy theories really do come true." (tuck, tuck)

    by tribalecho on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:56:38 PM PST

  •  Send the Mavericks to clean it up. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, tommymet

    McCain and Palin. They believe...

    Republican concept of labor: "Machines of Meat"

    by redtex on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:13:32 PM PST

  •  This is a greater environmental disaster than (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, Neon Mama, joehoevah

    anything we've ever seen in this country and the traditional media is silent about it.  Not. One. Word.

    This collapse does more than cover 400 acres.  This is spilling into the tributaries of the Tennessee river.  Poisoning everything in it's path.

    This is horrible.

  •  ANd, it very bad stuff. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, aimzzz

    My husband tested that stuff for a coal burning utility plant.

    Republican concept of labor: "Machines of Meat"

    by redtex on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:18:51 PM PST

  •  Gold mines do this kind of thing, too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murrayewv, Arsenic, Abra Crabcakeya

    Their waste is rich in cyanide, too.  Though I suppose "rich" isn't exactly the right word.

    I'm not sure how you get "bigger than Exxon Valdez" though.  400 acres?  Several weeks to clean up?

    Versus hundreds of miles of shore, not really cleaned up even now - still ecosystem problems.  Active work for cleanup lasted years.

    I don't understand this comparison.  This is an ugly problem, and coal has many other problems, too.  But I do not get the comparison.

    "The river always wins" - Mark Twain

    by Land of Enchantment on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:42:40 PM PST

    •  I think it was because the estimate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Land of Enchantment

      was revised from cubic yards to cubic feet later. It ash has concentrations of mercury, etc. burning coal. One of the first things Bush did was redefine mercury as not hazardous.

      There is some suspicion that one of these ponds is closer to an elementary school here in W. Va. This is due to falsification of two surveys, when the pond was originally put in and then when expansion was requested.

      Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living~~Mother Jones

      by CA Berkeley WV on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 07:07:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A good thing, eh? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murrayewv, rainmanjr

    That it was "only" sludge from dirty coal (and only 524 million gallons).

    And not, say, 50 years' worth of "sequestered" carbon dioxide from "clean coal" that some seismic event forced into the atmosphere.

    Hey, Wolf. DailyKos is the Best Political Team on the planet.

    by Alden on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:54:23 PM PST

  •  That video is one of the most appalling things (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, murrayewv

    I have ever seen.

    Clean Coal. Right, got it, what's all that stuff again?

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with the Mass airport folks about toxic spills of fuel and other compounds. It isn't a matter of if, it's a matter of how you handle the problem when it happens. When you deal in toxic stuff, and that stuff is managed by people, since people are fallible, disasters will eventually happen.

    820 Illinois-427 Senate Sponsored-152 Senate authored. Obama record on Bills. Palin record 0-0-0. Palin Lies-1 big one and counting.

    by marketgeek on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:35:12 PM PST

  •  Sounds like they need a bail-out. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tommymet, rainmanjr
  •  Wow. (3+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, tommymet, rainmanjr
    Hidden by:
    oaktownadam

    I wonder how the troll Rural "Democrat" is going to explain this latest mess -- he was the asshole who was promoting the virtues of "clean" coal not so long ago.

  •  And what will the country learn? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, RosyFinch

    Remember this summer the Supreme Court ruled on the Exxon Valdez case and let stand the very diminished damages amount to Alaskans 20 years after the worst oil spill in our history?

    That didn't stop Americas from screaming Drill, Baby, Drill like brain-dead oil-addicted zombies.

    What selfish, morons this country has raised up in the last 60 or so years.

  •  Not to be a smart azz, but isn't it ironic... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, tommymet

    that an ecological disaster should happen right in the middle of the Republican stronghold? So do we expect that the people in Tennessee and Alabama will now be praying for a stronger EPA and FEMA to come in and fix this problem? Will they expect the government to come in and fix their problems?

    I certainly hope that the government is able to help remedy this awful situation. It won't be done properly on Dumya's watch. Barack will have to fix this because Dumya will only make things worse.

    I'm sure that this will also have unintended affects on the coal industry.

    Again Karma and Timing. They're everything this year!

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. John Stuart Mill

    by Maximilien Robespierre on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 08:58:36 PM PST

  •  Civil suits abound... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tommymet

    non working attorneys (like myself) should jump on this.  It is our ethical duty...

    All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting. - George Orwell

    by Five of Diamonds on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 10:33:24 PM PST

  •  i suppose (0+ / 0-)

    this would be a bad time to point out that the TVA was a centerpiece of FDR's New Deal.

    Hooray for government incompetence!

  •  clean coal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Big Tex, tommymet

    Clean coal - thats like... dehydrated water, right?

  •  NOT dirt...Queen Victoria's ice cubes (0+ / 0-)

    What a mess!  How awful for the victims of the spill. Fly Ash enjoys a long-time regulatory loophole big enough to drive a dump truck through that allows it to be treated as ordinary fill. It's not. Many states have taken it upon themselves to close this up to protect citizens from disasters and while Bush's EPA took testimony, added damage cases, they dropped the ball on actual action. Hopefully that will change.

    Why do I care from up here in New England? I diaried the story of Wenham Lake, drinking water for 80,000 Massachusetts residents, a while ago. It's a messy six year grassroots adventure that felt like a living a novel at the time. Unfortunately, it's not a unique situation and I share it as a cautionary tale.

    Power Plant dumps on Queen Victoria's ice cubes Power Plant dumps on Queen Victoria's ice cubes

    enjoy.

  •  once you are done ranting (0+ / 0-)

    would like to offer a solution?

    So you don't like coal what would you like to use to produce electricity. Or are you suggesting we should all just return to the pre electricity age.

    You hate nuclear, you hate coal, you hate hydro where is the electricity going to come from?

  •  This event no surprise . I've seen a lot (0+ / 0-)

    of sewage and other waste retention pond ruptures , and can tell you that enforcement of regulations regarding coal mining is a myth. "Reclamation" doesn't ocur beyond what you can see from the highway. "The fate of all mankind , I fear , is in the hands of fools"

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