Kevin Roeten: Mercury Toxicity from Power Plants?

“There are over 250 known phobias, and chemophobia seems to be the most common fear.”

Kevin Roeten writes at Red State:

… Greenpeace actually claimed Duke Energy is responsible for 951 premature deaths, 1,447 heat attacks, and 15,714 asthma attacks caused by his power plants every year.

One wonders how Greenpeace came up with such exact numbers. If one looks at the typical ‘pollutants’ from coal-fired plants, one sees [CO2], [SO2], [NOx], [CO], and methyl mercury [“monomethylmercuric cation”].

[CO2] is a non-pollutant, and is necessary for life on earth. Concentrations of the others are negligible compared with their Threshold Limit Value [TLV]. Methyl mercury can be dangerous in high concentrations, but volcanoes are responsible for half of all mercury emissions. Eruptions usually result in a 4-6x increase in atmospheric mercury.[77]

The EPA TLV for mercury is 0.02 mg/m3 (~0.02ppm), but it also lists mercury as a Class A4-Not classifiable as a human carcinogen.

In the last few weeks, EPA has leveled the local CTS Plant in Arden, NC, at a cost of millions. This Superfund Site spread fear through South Asheville. The main chemical was trichloroethylene (e.g., TCE, ‘Trilene’, ‘Trike’), and chemophobes came out of the woodwork. Bulldozing the now ‘flat’ CTS plant by the EPA, did not improve TCE in the groundwater.

An EPA-sanctioned soil-vapor extraction system has been operating there since 2006. In that system, any TCE-laden groundwater is aerated, where TCE is removed from the water.

Why do so many forget TCE was used extensively in the 50’s and 60’s for extracting vegetable oils from palm, soy, and coconut? Typically used in coffee decaffeination? Worst of all, most forget it was used as a gas anesthetic. Millions have breathed 1% TCE through self-administered analgesia (i.e., childbirth difficulties).

It’s TLV stands at 50 ppm. The ACGIH lists it as: ‘”Not suspected to be a human carcinogen”. In California alone, there are over 73 facilities that have used TCE. Of the millions that have used it, there is no known case of a human getting cancer because of TCE…

Read the entire commentary.