Another Attack on coal

By Tom Tamarkin
Dec. 8, 2014

Dan River ash spill

By by cheap energy in America. Last night CBS “60 Minutes” attacked the coal fired utility industry and no one realized it. They did a story about fly ash and bottom ash waste coming from coal fired electrical generating stations.

Without any independent scientific explanation Lesley Stahl allowed the CEO of Duke Energy to suggest that certain elements like Iron and Manganese are naturally occurring and that other elements found in this ash must not be naturally occurring; i.e., including but not limited to arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium.

Strange, but years ago 8th graders were taught in science class that there are 92 naturally occurring elements (Hydrogen through Uranium) on Earth, as listed by atomic number in the Periodic Table of the Elements. All of the above elements are found as naturally occurring elements on Earth (in the ground) and there are trace amounts of them everywhere.

What CBS News did not report was the amount of those trace elements in various fly and bottom ash waste pond samples. The amount would be measured in tens of parts per million and hundreds per million, max. Nor did CBS News interview a medical toxicologist expert too determine what amount of these trace elements are in all of our bodies and what amounts may be considered dangerous if accumulated over an extended period of time. Rather, CBS News simply said Duke Energy and the utility industry in general has over 1,000 waste fills of this fly and bottom ash and that it is “toxic.”
Their message is that water would run through the ash and carry some amount of these trace elements downstream and into water supplies. Anyone with a background in chemistry would ask about the ability for these mostly heavy metals to become dissolved in water and they would ask about the dilution factor based on tens of millions of cubic feet of water coming into contact with the extremely rarefied trace amounts of these elements!

But CBS News did show some video of some very old power plants being blown up and suggested that this was being done to curb the evil coal.

They did interview the CEO of Duke Energy who made a remarkably poor defense against the vastly overstated allegations being leveled against her and the company she runs. There was no science; only lawyerly statements. And no common sense.

Clearly this was yet another attack against the coal industry by the Tom Steyer lead far left with the Big Green Energy Schemers piggy backing and laughing all the way to the bank.

Why did CBS “60 Minutes” do this? Someone needs to investigate to determine what triggered the story and the angle it was presented in. And someone needs to contact them and get this on the record.

And a major point that everyone can understand is that this fly ash and bottom ash is mostly silicon dioxide and calcium oxide (sand & glass) and that over 40% of all utility fly & bottom ash is recycled in Portland cement! Needless to say, all the above group of metals are expensive and if there were significant amounts of them in the ash waste, you can bet they would be recovered.

Once again Lesley Stahl has proven how little she knows about science and how good she is at fear mongering.