Proponents of clean coal promise that some day, off in the future sometime, they’ll be able to burn coal cleanly, by storing the carbon dioxide emitted by coal burning power plants, much in the way that coal burning power plants store coal ash waste now.
If the storage of ash is any indication of how clean clean coal is, we ought to have none of it. This week, about 300 million gallons of coal ash sludge broke through a containment damn and spilled out into the surrounding land, wrecking nearby homes and stopping a train in its tracks.
The coal ash from coal-fired power plants, also referred to as fly ash contains heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic. The Tennessee Valley Authority told residents that, although the sludge is seeping into the Emory River and nearby water supplies, there was nothing to worry about. “It does have some heavy metals within it, but it’s not toxic or anything,” said a TVA spokesman.
See, the water contains toxins, but it’s not toxic. Sure, and coal is clean. The spill in Kingston is what clean coal looks like.