Sunday, October 4, 2009

"60 Minutes" on coal ash disposal

After finishing the Cowboys-Broncos game today, I turned the channel to CBS to see what was on "60 Minutes." I got there two or three minutes into a piece by Leslie Stahl on coal ash impoundments at power plants.

Considering the number of coal-fired power plants along the Ohio River, particularly in my home part, the piece interested me. I wasn't impressed with parts of the piece, but I'll not nitpick it right now.

Before my job as editorial page editor of The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington WV was eliminated, I had written two editorials about the topic. One was in January,  and one was in May. I was planning some original reporting on this to comment on the topic in greater depth, but then came word that I didn't work at the HD anymore.

Before writing the first editorial, I got on Google Earth and looked at the John Amos, Gavin and Big Sandy plants from above. I knew there were large landfills and ash storage sites associated with them, but seeing the photos gave me a new perspective on it. And I was this close to getting a tour of the Amos operation to see everything there.

The thing is, a lot of bad stuff used to go up the stacks and into the air. As they used to say, the solution to pollution is dilution. I was at Gavin in October 1984 when Greenpeace showed up to protest acid rain.

When the bad stuff couldn't go into the air anymore, it had to go into ash ponds and landfills.

I could go on, but I don't want to violate my "no politics" rule right now. When you talk about coal, politics seeps in.

Jackson H. Randolph at dusk

It's been pretty quiet on the river lately, so I figured I'd pull  out this photo I took one evening last month.

It's the mv. Jackson H. Randolph, formerly known as the James C. Justice. A few details make this an okay photo instead of a really good photo. But I'll keep it anyway.

I remember taking a lot of pictures of the Justice in the 1980s, including several when I found it tied up along the Ohio bank just below the Gallipolis Locks and Dam. One of these days I'll scan and post them, maybe.