Monday, October 5, 2009

How did we let this happen?

October 7th, 2009
How did we let this happen?
I just watched an episode on 60 minutes that would just curl your hair. It was about dealing with a deadly byproduct of a power plant. It is called COAL ASH! This is the residue from a power plant that burns coal to produce electricity. That wasn’t the really scary part because it is a known fact that all power plants do this. The scary part is that Hyperion will be doing this. It is written in the new Union County Zoning ordinance that the planned development that Hyperion pushed on us, (those of us opposed to the refinery) that it cannot store toxic waste in or on the facility. Guess what? Coal Ash is not on the list of the EPA as being toxic waste. Now here’s the kicker. In my estimation, there is nothing to prevent Hyperion from importing coal ash from other power plants and storing it here.
For a long time now, people have been accusing me of being as bad as “Chicken Little.” The sky is falling, the sky is falling. Well folks, I’m here to tell you that this is a distinct possibility for the HEC. People say that I’m always a pessimist, always negative, the cup is always half empty not half full. Can you imagine millions of tons of coal ash piling up on 3200 acres of the richest farmland in South Dakota? I cannot fathom such a disaster, but it could happen.
There is nothing to prevent Hyperion from making contracts with power plants around the United States to take coal ash off their hands. Al Huddleston tried to create a dump in Dallas, Texas and did not succeed. What is to prevent him from doing it here? Not a damn thing. The state of South Dakota is welcoming Huddleston with open arms and hope he has a big pocketbook so they can make lots of money. After all, this is economic development.
Coal Ash is loaded with mercury, arsenic and lead. Proponents of spreading the coal ash around say that it is nothing but dirt, what is everyone worried about. Ask the people in Tennessee after the pond holding the coal ash burst and flooded the downstream towns. It literally buried houses, lakes and the countryside with many feet of ash. Leslie Stahl said on TV that we should be raising red flags all over this country because of the ash. The power company is exporting the ash to a small town in Alabama and paying the citizens there about $7or 8 million dollars to store it there. This is absolutely ludicrous. When Ms. Stahl interviewed a spokesman for Dominion Power Company about raising this red flag, he merely responded that neither the federal government nor the EPA has declared the ash toxic and that they are fully compliant with the federal regulations. Oh My God! He also stated that there is no limit to the size of the stockpiles. When she asked him about oversight or inspections to make sure no violations occur he responded that the states are responsible for the inspections. Now that scares me. Can you imagine DENR inspecting this? Do they ever inspect other power plants in the state? You never see anything about violations in the paper, and this has to be happening. Are we prepared to accept this? Do we have any choice? You bet your bippie we do. If ever there was a need to get out and protest something, this is it. We must circulate petitions to get this ordinance changed to prevent Hyperion from doing this, because I’m here to tell you, if they can get away with it, they will. I wouldn’t trust Hyperion for one second.
I can’t remember how many times I have written this, but it has been more than 3 or 4 times that I’ve said Hyperion has no intention of building a refinery in Union County. I hate to say it, but it makes perfect sense to me for Hyperion to try to pull this off.
To me coal ash would be more harmful to us than air pollution. With coal ash we would get a triple whammy. The coal ash would leach into the ground water. It would dust us with ash that could carry radioactive materials, and it will leach the surrounding farmlands that raise not only grain crops but livestock as well. It is a no win situation. Call me a pessimist if you will, but trust me this is not a good deal. If Elk Point and the state of South Dakota think this is economic development, they are sorely mistaken. Can you imagine what this area will be like in 20 years when your children are reaching adulthood? What will they do? What will living conditions be like? What will this area be like?
How did we let this happen?


At October 7, 2009 at 6:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where will this coal ash come from because I dont believe they will be burning coal?

At October 7, 2009 at 8:53 AM , Blogger Doug said...

Hyperion has said they will be burning a combination of pet coke and coal. initally they will be burning straight coal since the refinery will be built after the power plant. it is possible they may import pet coke to burn as well, but it is my understanding they will not


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