Did you know that burning coal for things like electricity results in millions of tons of solid waste in the form of coal ash and scrubber sludge?
This toxic cocktail sits in “ponds,” often leaching into groundwater, or is even turned into building materials like concrete. But there’s no way to clean this stuff up — it is highly hazardous, and it is one of the true costs of coal that can only be avoided by switching to renewable sources of energy.
December, 2008: the Tennessee Kingston Coal Ash Slurry Spill
Just before 1am in Monday 22, 2008 a dike holding back 84-acres of coal ash sludge ruptured and flooded everything down stream, covering the surrounding area in up to six feet of toxic coal slurry. You can read more in-depth on the TVA coal ash slurry spill here.
Coal ash is a Global Problem
Coal ash ponds in China leach toxic material into the water supply just as they do in the US. Coal ash used in building materials there breaks down and threatens to enter people’s bodies just as it does in our homes. Coal ash is comprised of dangerous chemical compounds in China, just like it is here. And as in the US, the Chinese government has failed to effectively regulate this massive threat to the public’s health and safety.
The True Cost of Coal – An Investigation into Coal Ash in China [PDF], focuses on a long-ignored type of coal pollution. An inevitable byproduct of coal power generation, coal ash is also China’s largest single source of industrial solid waste.