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Monday, December 29, 2008

Coal

It's dirty, yes. But can it be made clean. Some say yes. Some say no. Who are we to believe?

The ThisIsReality.Org people say there's no such thing as clean coal technology. They run their TV commercial on Springfield's local cable channels almost every day.

The Illinois Coal Association says otherwise (Clean-coal proponents dispute television ad): Referring to the commercial:

That statement, said Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association, is “a bald-faced lie.”
“There is considerable progress being made. Twenty or 30 years ago, people didn’t think sulfur could be removed from coal. Today, we have scrubbers,” Gonet said, referring to technology widely used to remove sulfur dioxide from coal.

The miners have something to say, too:

Phil Smith, spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, maintains that the ad’s sponsors want to eliminate coal as an energy resource.
But coal provides about 54 percent of the country’s electricity, Smith said, adding, “My question is, ‘How are you going to turn on your computer or TV or air conditioning if coal were to disappear?’”

I don't think that came out right.

There are problems trying to get coal clean. From Greenpeace (via):

Despite $5.2 billion of investment in the US alone, clean coal research has been plagued with difficulties. For example, of the 13 clean coal projects that the US General Accounting Office looked at, eight had serious delays or financial problems - six were behind schedule by 2-7 years and two were bankrupt and will not be completed.
The operators of the $297 million Healy Clean Coal project in the USA intend to retrofit the current clean coal plant with traditional technologies. The plant has been closed since January 2000 because safe, reliable and economical operation was not possible with the experimental technology.

Oh dear. I didn't need to hear that.

Springfield is about to turn the ignition on our own brand new coal fired power plant. Construction is nearing completion and there may be big bonuses paid to the builder if the plant goes on line early.

In other news, there was a massive coal sludge spill last week in Tennessee. How massive? More than one billion gallons, or enough to fill "1,660 Olympic-size swimming pools," of the stuff broke free of its container and went into the Emory and Clinch rivers (EPA: Rivers high in arsenic, heavy metals after sludge spill):

The [EPA] said it found "several heavy metals" in the water in levels that are slightly above safe drinking-water standards but "below concentrations" known to be harmful to humans.
"The one exception may be arsenic," the agency said in a letter to an affected community. "One sample of river water out of many taken indicated concentrations that are very high and further investigations are in progress."
[...]
TVA officials have said water quality tests from a nearby water treatment facility have shown that the water from the river intake meets federal and state guidelines for potable water. But coal operation critics remain concerned about the long-term effects of the spill, and residents have expressed concerns about drinking water, especially from wells.

What was the game plan for this sludge? What were they doing storing this stuff by a river? How long were they going to store it?

I tend to believe the clean coal technology is not all it's cracked up to be. Even if it is, what do we do with all the dirt and chemicals that get removed in the process?

Posted by Marie at December 29, 2008 10:42 PM

Comments

The cleantech category is comprised of a variety of subsectors that represent products, services, and technologies created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develop energy independence, promote energy efficiency, and conserve natural resources.

Posted by: Clean Coal technology at January 22, 2009 3:06 AM

Links just to promote a business are not allowed here.

Posted by: Marie Author Profile Page at January 22, 2009 3:19 AM

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