Toxic Luxury

In: Science

Submitted By kbyers
Words 1902
Pages 8
Toxic Luxury

Electricity has become a luxury we expect in life. We flip our light switches, charge our cell phones, and turn on our TVs with no thought as to how we our able to enjoy this so called luxury of power. As with most luxuries in life, electricity bears a cost. Yes, monthly we are billed for our household usage by the kilowatt, but there are other costs we’ve neglected to consider. Duke Energy, the largest electrical power holding company in the United States, plead guilty to nine violations of the Federal Clean Water Act in a hearing held this past May, which culminated in a fine of $102 million. The violations resulted from a spill of about 39,000 tons of coal ash due to a collapsed pipe under a coal ash dump that coated 70 miles of the Dan River near Eden, North Carolina with sludge. Coal ash is the inorganic residue left behind when pulverized coal is burned to produce electricity. Coal ash is one of the largest types of industrial waste generated in the United States and in 2012 the nation’s coal plants generated nearly 10 1milloin tons of it. A little less than half of coal ash produced in the United States is recycled into products like concrete, pavement or wallboard. However, the rest is stored, in over 2,000 storage sites across the country, in landfills, quarries or ponds that, over time, accumulates to potentially millions of tons of coal ash that contains some of the world’s deadliest toxic metals: arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and selenium. These contaminants can pollute, groundwater, drinking water and the air. All of these contaminants can be toxic and have the potential to injure all major organ systems, damage physical health and development, and endanger wildlife. As a result of the Dan River spill, about 300,000 people were unable to use their water supply for days as arsenic levels exceeded state standards. In…...

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