Archive for May 2010
Distracted and disturbed by oil rig explosions, massive oil spills, feckless oil companies and volcanic ash clouds? Speaking of ash, here’s some good news that maybe escaped the attention it deserves: The Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate coal ash with new rules that will ensure the “safe disposal and management” of ash produced from coal-fired power plants.
Coal ash is known more formally as coal combustion residuals; it is the byproduct of coal combustion and is disposed in liquid form in large surface impoundments and in solid form at landfills.
The residuals contain contaminants such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which are associated with cancer and various other serious health effects. The EPA said its risk assessment and damage cases “demonstrate that, without proper protections, these contaminants can leach into groundwater and can migrate to drinking water sources, posing significant health public concerns.”
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), the Scandinavian ro-ro vessel operator and logistics company, cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent last year, mainly through reduced fuel consumption due to lower volumes and the use of lower sulfur fuels.
The Oslo-based WWL says it also cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 135,000 tons over the nine-year period from 2000-2009, an amount nearly equal to all of the SO2 emissions from road vehicles in the U.S. for an entire year.
The latter point is a little odd as a bragging point because WWL provides factory-to-dealer ocean transportation for the automotive, agricultural and construction equipment industries. In other words, its roll on-roll off fleet of car carriers move a good portion of the vehicles that wind-up pumping all those emissions into the U.S. each year. The company moved 1.23 million units last year by sea; it operates more than 60 “environmentally adapted car carriers and RoRo vessels” in operation on 20 trade routes to six continents.
The Sierra Club and other environmental groups last month took their anti-coal campaign against Massey Energy to another level, filing a lawsuit against five Massey coal subsidiaries for thousands of Clean Water Act permit violations.
Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy went after Massey – America’s fourth largest coal company – and its subsidiaries in the lawsuit filed in West Virginia’s Southern District Court in Charleston for allegedly violating permit limits by dumping toxic aluminum into waterways from as many as 16 mines covered under seven Clean Water Act permits in the state.