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April 24, 2008

Coal is more deadly and dangerous than nuclear power

People talk about nuclear power being deadly and dangerous. They can list some radiation leaks and spills.
Where are the deaths in those incidents ? How much is the radiation above background levels ? Did the leak have more radiation than an equal amount of wine or seawater ?

With my coal examples below plenty of deaths. I think things are more dangerous when they have a history of killing a lot more people. Not killing more then not more dangerous.

Price Anderson only kicks in for damage above $10 billion. No payouts by the government and no costs to this point. Only industry payments have been collected.

As of 2000, there were more than 600 coal sludge impoundments across the Appalachian coalfields. Chemical analyses of this sludge indicate it contains large amounts of arsenic, mercury, lead, copper, and chromium, among other toxins, which eventually seep into the drinking water supply of nearby communities. Even worse than this seepage, however, is the threat of a dam break. Several dam breaches have occurred, one at Buffalo Creek in West Virginia, which took the lives of 125 people, many of whom were children.

Buffalo Creek damage still from film: The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man
Directed by Mimi Pickering B&W, 40 minutes, 1975: On February 26, 1972, a coal waste dam owned by the Pittston Company collapsed at the head of a crowded hollow in southern West Virginia. A wall of sludge, debris, and water tore through the valley below, leaving in its wake 125 dead, 1121 injured and 4000 homeless. Interviews with survivors, representatives of union and citizen's groups, and officials of the Pittston Company are juxtaposed with actual footage of the flood and scenes of the ensuing devastation.


The 15- to 20-foot black wave of water gushed at an average of 7 feet per second and destroyed one town after another. A resident of Amherstdale commented that before the water reached her town, "There was such a cold stillness. There was no words, no dogs, no nothing. It felt like you could reach out and slice the stillness." -- quote from Everything in Its Path, by Kai T. Erikson

The most recent sludge dam breach was in Martin County, Kentucky, in 2000, which the EPA called the worst environmental disaster in the history of the Southeast. When the sludge dam breached, more than 300 million gallons of toxic sludge (about 30 times the amount of oil released in the Exxon Valdez oil spill) poured into tributaries of the Big Sandy River, killing virtually all aquatic life for 70 miles downstream of the spill.





Where was the insurance on that ? Where are the fish in that sludge ?


Mountain top removal coal mining : 800+ square miles of mountains are estimated to be already destroyed.

More than 7 percent of Appalachian forests have been cut down and more than 1,200 miles of streams across the region have been buried or polluted between 1985 and 2001.

FURTHER READING
Buffalo Creek Disaster at West Virginia division of culture and history

Names of the Buffalo Creek dead

All a drop in the ocean to the lives lost to coal and fossil fuel air pollution. 3 million per year Even though air pollution is the more deadly, the visuals of the coal sludge damage is more easy to relate and understand. Millions getting sick more often and dieing in hospitals is not as easy to comprehend.

Air pollution deaths have become somewhat more insidious than flagrant incidents like the London Fog of 1952

By Sunday, Dec. 7, visibility fell to one foot. Roads were littered with abandoned cars. Cattle in the city's Smithfield market were killed and thrown away before they could be slaughtered and sold — their lungs were black. On the second day of the smog, Saturday, Dec. 6, 500 people died in London. When the ambulances stopped running, thousands of gasping Londoners walked through the smog to the city's hospitals. The lips of the dying were blue.



The death rate shot up during the week of the fog. A study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives indicates 12,000 may have been killed by the great smog.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post. I would like to see this cross posted to http://thewildwildleft.soapblox.net. It is a liberal blog that I am trying to educate on the Coal vs Nuclear Power issue. What do you say?

Steve

bw said...

Are you saying that you want permission to crosspost it ? Then yes you have my permission.

Anonymous said...

Thanks

I will cross post. I never read a better article on coal vs nuclear.

Steve