Sunday, October 17, 2010

Power plant scrubbers and water quality

I've said it before, so I'll say it again. Efforts to reduce air pollution by burning coal to generate electricity have created a new set of problems to deal with. I've mentioned how flu gas desulfurization units, or scrubbers, have required utilities to build landfills to place the sludge that comes out of the smoke. Now the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission has set standards for discharges into water from those scrubbers.

This isn't saying that scrubbers shouldn't have been installed, but actions tend to have unanticipated consequences that we have to keep our eyes on.

Wanting 12 feet

In theory, the Ohio River has a navigation channel that is guaranteed to be nine feet deep. In practice, the channel is at least 12 feet. Otherwise coal barges loaded to 10 feet deep would not be able to use the river when it's at normal pool.

Those extra three feet allow boats to push more cargo than they otherwise would. Now some businesspeople in Oklahoma would like a 12-foot channel on their river, too. Check out this story to see what an extra three feet could mean there.

Floodwall art

If you want to read an article on the man responsible for some amazing floodwall paintings in Point Pleasant, W.Va., Portsmouth, Ohio, Paducah, Ky., and elsewhere, check out this story in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

Some cities along the Ohio River have been smart enough to have professional-quality artwork on what would otherwise be drab concrete walls. I was in Portsmouth early one morning in August or September and saw some striking work there. The 3-D effect was so realistic you found yourself staring at it in appreciation.