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environment | media criticism

Let's talk about clean coal

Containment wall failed, releasing 500,000 gallons of heavy metal laden coal ash into the Tennessee River watershed. No mention of this environmental disaster in national media.

When power plants burn coal to produce energy, the coal doesn't just vanish
into the atmosphere to cause global warming. No, there's a substantial
amount of left-over sludge called coal ash, a nasty mess that is enriched
for toxic heavy metals. It is seriously nasty stuff. This glop has to be
stored, somewhere, usually piled up and walled-off, because it's not healthy
for anything.

Behold what happens when the containment walls fail.


This is happening right now, here in the United States. Yesterday, a
retaining wall failed, and 500 million gallons of coal ash - the vile grey
slime in the video - poured down into the tributaries of the Tennessee
River, the water supply for Chattannooga and environs.

We're looking at a major environmental catastrophe, bigger than any oil
spill, and most of the news media are silent about it. I checked CNN,
MS-NBC, even Fox News.not a word.

The local newspapers have a few articles, and the regional blogs are trying
to follow it, but otherwise, I guess we're going to pretend it didn't




Don't watch cable all the time 24.Dec.2008 20:25

Toe Tag

CBS Evening News had the story tonight, and it's on their Web page:

 link to www.cbsnews.com

this was a rather large event and was under-reported 25.Dec.2008 14:26


A little math- using the 2.6 million yards figure from the cbs story I come up with 525 MILLION gallons. Being from the west coast and never having dealt with coal I have no idea what the stuff weighs, but seeing how it was a wet mud flow like event that totaled houses I'm guesing it's heavy and that it would take a redneck with a scoop shovel a thousand years to clean it up, if he or she was in excellent physical condition.

CBS also reported that the plant burned 14,000 tons !!! a day and could provide electricity to 670000 homes. We can say from this that an average house needs 41.8 pounds of coal From what I can tell a pound of coal provides at least twice the energy of a pound of wood.. Seems like a lot of energy being wasted here becuase people dont want to put on a damn sweater, or think they need to depend on the AC in the summer to stay alive. I think this is the underlying issue here and a bigger deal than the sludge "spill" Conservation is our best new power source, but it's become a dirty word over the past few years political climate.

I am suprised indeed that it's not a bigger news items. Does the TV get that much money from the "clean coal" ads? A mudslide or rock slide of this magnitude wiping out a few houses would be lead story for a couple days. Maybe it's all the "Winter Blast" coverage going on, and all most people really care about is the economic news about now...

The networks make a pile of money on clean coal ads 26.Dec.2008 13:21

Toe Tag

..but they're also making a ton on the counter-ads that the Reality Campaign started running a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Times reports that the spill was three times bigger than initially reported-- 5.4M cy, or 3,000 acre-feet:  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/27/us/27sludge.html?_r=1&hp