On December 22nd, 2008, a horrendous catastrophe occurred near Kingston, Tennessee. A catastrophe that requires $1 billion dollars and many years of clean up. It was the biggest environmental disaster since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Sadly, it was the also the first time that the dangers of unregulated coal sludge dumping ponds were exposed to our forefront. Another tragedy that could have been prevented with only a little oversight.
We burn coal to produce energy to power our lives. Fair enough. But what happens when we burn coal? Most people know that gases are released into the atmosphere; gases that aren’t exactly curbing climate change. Most people however also fail to realize that another byproduct of coal burning is ash. Toxic ash containing high concentrations of arsenic and mercury, and lots of it. 140 million tons of ash every year in the United States, to be exact.