Sunday, December 28, 2008

Knoxville paper has major pictures, video on coal ash spill; cleanup task for TVA seems overwhelming; can coal ever be "clean"?


Well, plenty of environmentalists are saying now that there is no such thing as “clean coal” after the sludge-flood in Kingston, TN, in Roan County, 40 miles SW of Knoxville, recently, caused when an earthen dam gave way. In the Washington DC Metro, there are signs to that effect now.

The Biz section of the Knox News, Sunday Dec. 28, 2008 has a typical story today “Residents hit by coal ash spill worry about health impact; Complain they aren’t getting answers,” by Matt Lakin, link here. The article has a video “Through the wake of the spill” and a slide show (in thumbnail format, "Images from the TVA Pond Breach") of striking individual photos that may be purchased from the newspaper. It will be interesting to see how the Tennessee Valley Authority, itself owned by the government, handles all of the liability issues. The interesting thing is that hydroelectric power itself is based on renewable resources and was a great priority in the WPA during FDR's New Deal.

Energy strategists say that the United States is the Persian Gulf of coal. Reliance on coal could fit well into the T. Boone Pickens plan of using less oil but more natural gas, by converting coal to natural gas. The most notorious problems associated with coal production noted before on this blog are “mountaintop removal” associated with strip mining, especially in southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, extreme SW Virginia, and Tennessee in the Cumberland mountains (where the spill occurred).

I visited the mountain area, but further south, near Dayton (Scopes trial site) and then Chattanooga, in June 2004. I visited Knoxville in October 1991.

Photo: southern Cumberland mountains, June 2004. Are they really mountains?

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