Home Energy and Environment Insignificant Nuclear Risk: Terrifying! Guaranteed Widespread Coal Deaths: Yawn.

Insignificant Nuclear Risk: Terrifying! Guaranteed Widespread Coal Deaths: Yawn.

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Power PlantEven though “multiple monitoring systems across the Commonwealth continue to show no levels of public health concern,” the Virginia Department of Health is warning residents to avoid drinking rainwater collected in cisterns.

You have to wonder: If insignificant health risks posed by a distant nuclear disaster are worth a health update, why isn’t VDOH giving constant updates on the known devastating effects of coal?

Mercury contamination is so widespread that one out of every six pregnant women have mercury levels in their blood high enough for levels in the fetus to reach or surpass the EPA’s safety threshold for mercury.

According to the latest government data, this means that 630,000 children are born each year with a strong chance of developing serious mercury-related health effects.

According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and an additional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.

Now that’s truly terrifying. Dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people may be killed in rare nuclear disasters (to say nothing of the risks posed by uranium mining). But coal kills tens of thousands of people every year by design.

Unfortunately, the risks we’ve known & lived with for years aren’t nearly as good at scaring up ratings as the new & unknown ones. Isn’t that right, Nancy Grace?

  • NotJohnSMosby

    as to a plane crash.  Out of who knows how many people fly each year around the world, relatively few die in the process.  In the US, airline fatalities are very rare.  Yet, 40,000 people die on the roads each year, and no one really blinks an eye unless it’s a school bus or something.

    The same with power plants.  Not that the situation in Japan isn’t serious, but far more people will die directly from coal.  You forgot to mention the very direct death – coal miners who are killed underground.  Or coal miners who die from other health reasons attributed to their work, like black lung.  They’re killed long before coal turns to pollution.  

  • They have extremely little understanding of science, energy, environmental issues, or just about any other substantive topic, yet they churn out “news” and commentary about those topics 24/7/365. That’s a big part of the problem. Then, there’s the influence of powerful industries in this country that skew public understanding and public policy with multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns, lobbying budgets, and donations to their favorite (e.g., most favorable to THEIR industries) politicians. The net results?  Big Lies like “clean coal” and “climategate” and Chevron’s bizarre/Orwellian “Human Energy” campaign (about how great oil is), and the constant lies/distortions of groups like this one, get picked up by the corporate media and the general public as factual or at least part of a “balanced” story. No wonder whyh it’s almost impossible to carry on a reasonable, sensible, serious, fact-based discussion of just about anything in this country these days.  

  • This is one of the issues that frustrates me most.  Coal is a very dangerous industry.  It needs to be highly regulated and safety needs to be enforced in the strongest possible ways.  But because we are some ways used to the environmental destruction of coal and the fact that miners sometimes die, we just shake our heads and turn away.