Burning coal is anything but ‘clean’
“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.