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Still Think Coal Is Clean? RIP Centralia

We Don’t Lose Towns By Mining Sunshine and Wind

Only two words are needed to answer proponents espousing the virtues of clean coal – Centralia, Pennsylvania.betts_aerial

This is a chronological eulogy of a small blue collar town. Full of folks just working for their share of the American dream.

1866 – In the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, Centralia was incorporated as a borough. Throughout it’s life it was predominantly made up of hard working coal miners and their families.

1962 – Population 2,600. The fire began at the town dump and ignited an exposed coal vein. It could have been extinguished for thousands of dollars then, but a series of bureaucratic half-measures and a lack of funding allowed the fire to grow into a voracious monster — feeding on millions of tons of slow-burning anthracite coal in the abandoned network of mines beneath the town.

800px-Pdr_16471970 – Carbon monoxide began entering homes and sickening people.

1979 – A gas-station owner inserted a stick into one of his underground tanks to check the fuel level. When he withdrew it, it seemed hot, so he lowered a thermometer down on a string and was shocked to discover that the temperature of the gasoline in the tank was 172 °F (77.8 °C).

1981 – A cave-in that suddenly opened beneath his feet in a backyard sucked a 12-year-old boy into it’s hot, gaseous void, nearly killing him.

1984 – The federal government appropriated $42 million to acquire and demolish every building in Centralia.

1990 – Census figures showed only 63 people remaining.

1992 – Pennsylvania claimed eminent domain on all properties in the borough, condemning all the buildings within.

abandoned-cities-2-mine-fire12000 – Population 21

2002 – The U.S. Postal Service revoked Centralia’s ZIP code, 17927.

2005 – Population 12

2006 – 16 properties left standing

2007 – Population 9

– Standing before the wreckage of his bulldozed home, a fourth-generation Centralian has little choice but to say goodbye. After years of delay state officials are working to complete the demolition of Centralia, Pennsylvania, then it truly will no longer exist. Entering its final days, a once-proud coal town is little more than a weed infested street grid, void of homes, schools, businesses, houses of worship, all the things that define a town.

State officials say the fire continues to burn uncontrolled and could for hundreds of years, until it runs out of fuel. We are reaping what we have sown …. so rest in peace ……

……… Centralia, Pennsylvania

………… Picher, Oklahoma

………. Love Canal (Niagara Falls), New York

Racing the clock. …. as the green future unfolds.

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No Responses to “Still Think Coal Is Clean? RIP Centralia”

  1. JBs Cookinglady Says:

    Great Post I’ve learned a lot in this article. Thanks for sharing
    .-= JBs Cookinglady´s last blog ..Philly Cheese Steak Not Just For The Super Bowl! =-.

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi JBs Cookinglady … You are welcome! come back again!

  3. Composter Says:

    The 1981 incident is scary. Imagine the earth suddenly opens up at the very spot where you are standing. But that’s how nature works, I guess. Respect the environment and we all will be better for it.
    .-= Composter´s last blog ..Compost Tumbler – Choose A Right One For Your Home updated Wed Oct 8 2008 9:19 pm CDT =-.

  4. Linda Says:

    Hi Composter … Yes, if we respect our planet, she will take care of us.

  5. Murano Glass Says:

    Very sad for the families involved and all the town that are affected. I just listened to the news regarding this situation and Googled it then came up to your blog which pretty much sums up the history of the disaster. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Murano Glass … yes! it is very sad to see a town go away when it was once very vibrant ….. you are very welcome and come back again!

  7. Lissof Says:

    Very sad consequences of our pursuit of $$$$$, unfortunately us, the little people suffer. How many politicians have severed in that time period, ineffectively???? I have known about this disaster for some time now, it should be as widely known as Love Canal,,, unfortunately even Love Canal is forgotten.. 🙁

  8. Linda Says:

    Hi Lissof … I know what you mean! It is just beyond me why this has to happen.

  9. Barbara Says:

    This is another one of those terrible stories, that just did not need to happen. To me, there is NO such thing as clean coal! There are plenty of other sources, we should be taking a closer look at, like geo-thermal, is one that just popped in my head. There is a lot that we could do with just that, if we were going in that direction! Seems so close, yet so far!
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Relax With Barbara On Wednesday 62 =-.

  10. Linda Says:

    Hi Barbara … I agree! so close yet so far and now is the time to try them out for a positive future!

    Hi Diane … Now you are talking about the folks who generate jobs for the wrong reason along with capitalism. Yes, we are stupid ! 😀

    Hi Dan … I could not agree more! take the money that was slated for nuclear and coal and put it toward solar, wind, geo-thermal, seagen, and skytran. So many options if they would just look outside the 9 dots. 😀

  11. Diane Scott Says:

    Linda you’ve done a heck of a job making what should be so obvious a very visual point. I’m originally from PA (not this area), and like many, have known about the out of control burning for a while. We just never get it right do we… Are humans really this stupid to continue to want to pursue the wrong thing when the right things are so clean and abundant????? Sigh!
    .-= Diane Scott´s last blog ..Don’t Even Think You Can’t You Can =-.

  12. Dan Boise Says:

    I think the gouvernment is not thinking clearly; all this talk about Coal and Nuclear. We have the Sun and Wind right here and NOW. I’m baffled they aren’t doing more to use those methods.

  13. Jacqueline Says:

    The clock is indeed ticking. We must pay closer attention to how we are treating this earth. We cannot keep dishing out abuse, then expect it to love us back.
    .-= Jacqueline´s last blog ..Managing Stress Naturally =-.

  14. Linda Says:

    Hi jacqueline … So true! we should pay her back with respect and hope she does not spit us out!

  15. Custom Mat Board  Says:

    This is totally nerve wrecking, what if this kind of thing will happen to say, NEW YORK CITY, man that would be a disaster. Coal ain’t cool, it just adds up to our problem, air pollution, and green house effect. I am pretty sure, if our government or even all the government of this planet, will think of ALTERNATIVE SOURCE, then we can generally say goodbye to all fossil power. There are lots of sources around us, wind, water, air and even animal waste and renewable sources can be tapped and utilized.

  16. Linda Says:

    Hi Custom Mat Board … Now this is what I am talking about! Especially if it started tomorrow! 😀

  17. DJ Says:

    I’ve heard about how devastating these underground coal fires can be. From what I know the fires can last for decades continuing to burn through the underground veins of coal. My question is can these fires ever be put out, and can they potentially spread far from their source to other towns? Unfortunately coal mining has a huge environmental impact, towns like Centralia are dismantled from underground coal fires, entire ecosystems are destroyed by mining and wildlife is killed from acids and pollution released from mines.
    There are much cleaner more efficient ways of gaining energy, like others have stated there are energy sources such as; tidal, geothermal, wind, and solar. The problem is from what I can gather, two things, either people of a town/state find wind turbines, solar plants an eyesore or the solar panels, wind turbines or what have you are too expensive and people are unwilling to pay. We like to complain about the environment’s condition and how we should use clean energy but when it comes down to doing something or paying for it very little people are willing to do something. My hope in the next decade is that the clean sources of energy that we see today, for example solar panels, will be affordable to everyday people, and will be integrated into everyday buildings so we will constantly be harnessing solar energy for our own benefit.

  18. Linda Says:

    HI DJ … At this time, there is no way to put the fires out until technology improves in the future. If it does not, fires will continue to follow the coal veins to their ends. As in the case of Centralia, that could be hundreds of years. If there are any other towns atop of these connected veins, they are in trouble as well.

    Yes, both solar and wind are expensive but just like flat panel tvs, the more sold the cheaper it gets. Plus there is new innovative cheap solar solutions coming out this year that can be painted or printed. So hang tight and we’ve only just begun. This year is a pivotal point for sustainable energy.

  19. footyman Says:

    Thanks for sharing and enlightening us.
    .-= footyman´s last blog ..Where is your ideal summer vacation? =-.

  20. Linda Says:

    Hi footyman … You are welcome! Come back again! 😀

  21. Paige Says:

    This is sad. It’s almost like we can only afford to be unhealthy these days, haha. So i know it says the town dump started this particular fire.. but are these fires always ignited by us or can they happen naturally as well? How could we fix this? We can’t just keep abolishing towns!

  22. Linda Says:

    Hi Paige … It is us as we mined the air pockets by hollowing out the veins. If we hadn’t mined, there is a good chance it would have started but could have easily been extinguished due to lack of oxygen. The mines created the oxygen thus the fire. Stop mining coal is the best answer I can give.

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