Friday, December 26, 2008

Coal Ash

Kingston Fossil Plant ash spill

Bottom map is of the extent of the Exxon Valez oil spill

The truth about the ash spill is finally coming out. The estimated size of the release now double the original estimate is probably even larger than reported. A few issues to consider in all of this. First off this is not a reportable spill because the ash waste was not classified as toxic. It is considered general waste even though it contains levels of arsenic, lead and other nasty stuff. According to the TVA there is no need for alarm because they have tested the water at the release site and it tests below EPA standards. Gee can we bottle this stuff and send it to Bush and company for their daily supply. Remember our Shrub in chief just a few weeks ago eased the drinking water standards for levels of toxic substances. I'm sure the EPA will be sure to enforce these standards unlike the other environmental laws that they have ignored during the Bush misadministration. I feel very sorry for the children that live in that area because the standards for lead exposures were very low and scientists world wide wanted to lower the levels even more. Lead even at very low levels cause developmental disorders, central nervous system damage and learning disabilities. This was the reason they took lead out of gasoline. We were quite simply poisoning our kids along with ourselves.

This spill is considered to be 40 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill of twenty years ago and no, that issue is still not cleaned up even though Exxon slithered out from under the law suit with nothing more than a minor fine. There have been reports that the current spill will be cleaned up in a few months. Don't believe it. Heavy metals being heavy sink in any body of water therefore the river will be contaminated for quite some time. To try and dredge the river will only stir things up and make it worse. The other issue here is that since this is classified as general waste it won't be treated in the same manner as toxic waste. Had it been a listed hazardous waste then one foot of soil would be removed from the spill area and a foot of fresh soil would have replaced it.

Clean coal? No such animal. So what should be done? For starters classify all coal ash as a dangerous waste. Establish dryer units and process the waste into concrete on site to eliminate the need for large holding areas. We'll need a bunch of concrete when we start rebuilding the roads and bridges in this country when Barrack takes charge. We could use some of that concrete to line old mines to store toxic wastes and keep it out of the water supply.

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