Monday, January 24, 2005

Power Plant Blues

Looks like someone is having a little coal burning power plant blues. From The Cincinnati Enquirer:
About 40 property owners - including some lifelong residents - have signed onto a lawsuit against Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co., saying excessive pollution from its Zimmer power plant has damaged their health, safety and property values.
These residents are complaining about the notorious Zimmer power plant in Moscow, Ohio (east of Cincinnati). Sounds like fun!
But over the same five-year period, citizens made 119 nuisance complaints, ranging from odors and smoke to excessive particulates in the air and plume "touchdowns" - a phenomenon that happens about weekly in the summer, when atmospheric conditions force the plume from the plant's smokestacks to settle at ground level.
Of course the plant isn't notorious for any of the current reasons, but because in the late seventies, early eighties it was originally designed and built to be a nuclear power plant. It was converted, at a great expense to CG&E customers, to coal burning when, for mostly political reasons, the plant failed to attain the proper certifications. Of course the political reasons revolved around supposed concern for public health, as if coal is devoid of any ill effects. You don't have to be a physicist either to figure out that coal and nuclear power plants don't have many innards (or "outards") in common. I think the whole "conversion" idea was cooked up by some clueless idiot who figured it was a logical possibility. Of course anything is possible if you throw enough money at it, that doesn't mean you should do it.

Although I've never seen the Moscow plant, I have seen the Lawrenceburg, Indiana coal plant - what a friggin mess. Mountains of coal, train cars and barges full of coal, smoke stacks, etc. Sure there's "clean burning" methods to processing coal, but this is like using clean dirt for farming. By contrast, I flew over one of the nuclear power plants on Lake Erie and it leaves almost zero foot print beyond the area where the plant operates. Check this bad boy out:

Of course this is the Davis-Besse plant which a rep of it's own, but it demonstrates the hatred people have for the technology upon which their lives depend. It had some minor maintenance issues, but I can guarantee that if a coal fired plant had worse issues it wouldn't have made the news beyond it's immediate area. But maintenance headaches and all, I'd rather live by Davis-Besse than Zimmer, and the Zimmerites have pretty much just themselves to blame. Oh and here's a coal plant for a comparison (sorry, can't recall where I got the photo):

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