Care for a few more toxins in your water?

March 10, 2009 at 8:43 pm Leave a comment

I’ve spent a few days wondering what subject would be most appropriate for Politics and Quirk’s first post. Pandas (I warned you in the “About” section)? Washington, D.C.’ s cupcake-pocalypse? FedEx Kinko’s announcement that they’re offering free resume printing (another pleasant reminder that we’re in a recession)?

Granted, these are all good topics, sure to make it in this blog at some point. But, I feel like I have to draw some attention to the current state of the Potomac River … and my current state of frustration toward anyone who claims that there really is such a thing as “clean” coal.

Public Citizen’s TexasVox blog reported just this morning that a ruptured pipeline spilled a whopping 4,000 gallons of toxic coal ash into the North Branch river. (Word is still out on how long it will take this stuff to reach D.C.)

A similar spill occurred in December, when more than a billion gallons of coal ash devastated 300 acres of land in southern Tennessee and choked local waterways. The TVA and local, state and federal agencies are still working on the cleanup.

What’s worse, these aren’t isolated incidents, and the impact is real. The New York Times reported on March 7 that domestic power plants produce more than 125 million tons of coal combustion waste each year. This waste is usually disposed in above-ground deposits with retaining walls. Of course, many of these walls don’t prevent leaking or collect water that could contain heavy metals. (The EPA has identified 63 sites where coal ash dumps have contaminated groundwater with heavy metal.)

What angers me most about these incidents is the fact that the coal industry has begun a massive campaign promoting “clean coal,” and are also opposing regulation to clean up these sites.

Environmental groups are starting to ramp up efforts against the coal industry – the Reality campaign has done an excellent job in debunking the myth of clean coal – and this action can’t come soon enough.

Southern Energy Network has a great landing page with information on how you can take action against coal – it’s definitely worth a read.

As for the current toxins flowing toward D.C.: Perhaps some toxic ash in the Potomac will convince lawmakers and the EPA to rethink coal use.

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Entry filed under: Outrages. Tags: , , .

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