Monday, more than 500 million gallons of toxic coal sludge burst through a retention wall in eastern Tennessee, causing massive property and environmental damage and leaving residents holding their breath over possible long-term consequences. Environmentalists said the spill was more than 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The incident underscored the false nature of the “clean coal” propaganda. In an interview with NBC Nightly News, Elliott Negin of the Union of Concerned Scientists explained:
This disaster shows that the term ‘clean coal’ is an oxymoron. It’s akin to saying ‘safe cigarette.’ Clean coal doesn’t exist.
The New York Times writes, “Even as the authority played down the risks, the spill reignited a debate over whether the federal government should regulate coal ash as a hazardous material. Similar ponds and mounds of ash exist at hundreds of coal plants around the nation.”