Burn­ing coal is any­thing but ‘clean’

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News -

“CLEAN coal”, re­ally? The re­cent ap­peal by Mr Walker (Chron­i­cle let­ters, Septem­ber 18) for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to com­mit to the ur­gent build­ing of a “clean coal” power plant is un­der­stand­able in our cur­rent cir­cum­stances.

How­ever, use of the word “clean” is just a coal in­dus­try ex­ag­ger­a­tion. Burn­ing coal is any­thing but a clean process. The newer plants are in­deed bet­ter than the old types, as would be ex­pected, but there is no avoid­ing the equa­tion that says car­bon plus oxy­gen yields car­bon diox­ide.

Un­for­tu­nately the story is much worse than that.

It has been es­ti­mated by the Earth Pol­icy In­sti­tute that in the US alone air pol­lu­tion from coal fired power plants causes an­nu­ally 23,600 deaths, 554,000 asthma at­tacks, 16,200 cases of chronic bron­chi­tis, 38,200 non-fa­tal heart at­tacks, and adds about US$160 bil­lion an­nu­ally to the US health bill.

Most coal is laced with small amounts of ra­dioac­tive iso­topes such as tho­rium, ura­nium and ra­dium which ap­pear in the fly ash (dumped in land­fill, or some­times used in con­crete).

Gaseous emis­sions in­clude small amounts of ra­dioac­tive radon gas.

If a new “clean coal” power plant is to be built, please don’t build it within a hun­dred kilo­me­tres of me.

Even a modern nu­clear power plant would be safer. Alan Baker, El­do­rado

WARTIME HERO: Doug Hamil­ton’s Cur­tis P40 Kit­ty­hawk sent hearts rac­ing when it flew from Wan­garatta air­port ear­lier this month.

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