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Author Topic: What about the Coal Fires?  (Read 3674 times)

Offline CliffordK

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What about the Coal Fires?
« on: 03/12/2010 16:40:33 »
I see discussions about recent volcanoes (as well as the one in 1816) and their impact on the environment.

Coal Mine (and some Natural Gas) Fires seem to be the forgotten environmental tragedy.

http://ravenwoodorg.org/ggrprogram.aspx


Apparently Australia holds the record for the oldest coal fire, 6,000 years of continuous burning at appropriately named "Burning Mountain".

Several fires in the USA and China have been burning since at least the early 1900's. 

I'm having troubles finding stats on the coal fires, but between 10 and 200 million tons of coal burn each year in China.

A single coal field in Jharia India has had around 37 million tons of coal burn since 1916.

One report indicates that "A single coalmine fire in Shangxi Provence of central China produces approximately 35% more carbon dioxide annually than all vehicles in North America."

The US, of course, has about 200 active coalmine fires, some having been burning for almost a century.

Fighting these fires is supposed to be like fighting Hell's Fire on Earth. 

But are we doing enough?
With the exception of Burning Mountain in Australia, most of the coal fires are due to human activity, or inadequate safety programs.  Some have been direct acts of vandalism.

http://ravenwoodorg.org/ggrprogram.aspx
http://www.earthmagazine.org/earth/article/383-7da-9-1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_seam_fire
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2006195,00.html?hpt=C2


(updated estimate of coal burned per year in China, based on additional docs)
« Last Edit: 04/12/2010 12:11:15 by CliffordK »


 

Offline peppercorn

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Re: What about the Coal Fires?
« Reply #1 on: 03/12/2010 16:47:41 »
I wouldn;t want to live there!

Is there some extra effect going on here to keep this burning? Volcanism or something?

It seems poor enough that we burn coal fairly inefficiently (on WW average) to generate electricity, but to let it bun unchecked *for years* in the ground is just bonkers!
 

SteveFish

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Re: What about the Coal Fires?
« Reply #2 on: 03/12/2010 20:34:47 »
For perspective, I did a quick web search and found that around 7,000 Mt/yr of hard coal plus another 1,000 Mt/yr of brown coal and lignite are currently mined.
 

Offline CliffordK

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What about the Coal Fires?
« Reply #3 on: 04/12/2010 12:20:56 »
For perspective, I did a quick web search and found that around 7,000 Mt/yr of hard coal plus another 1,000 Mt/yr of brown coal and lignite are currently mined.
Interesting...  I think you're close with the estimate.
I'm seeing estimates on the order of 3-4 billion tons a year of coal being produced/utilized, and somewhere on the order of 3.5 billion tons of oil also being consumed globally.

I found additional sources stating China's fires are burning 10 million to 200 million tons a year.  So...  somewhere between 0.1% and 2% of the global petroleum usage is just going up in smoke in China.  Sorry...  hard to get more accurate numbers.

No US or "global" estimate,

So, is this a global tragedy, or merely a cost of doing business?



 

Offline peppercorn

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What about the Coal Fires?
« Reply #4 on: 04/12/2010 12:42:52 »
So, is this a global tragedy, or merely a cost of doing business?

Maybe it's a sign than primary energy (in the hands of some) is still too cheap (and not just in a monetary sense!)
 

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What about the Coal Fires?
« Reply #4 on: 04/12/2010 12:42:52 »

 

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