Bull Run Fossil Plant, Clinton, Tennessee
Bull Run Fossil Plant near Clinton, Tennessee is a single-generator coal-burning power plant. It is owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. When construction of the plant was completed in 1967, it was the largest coal-burning plant in the world (measured by the amount of steam produced.) In addition, it has consistently been ranked as one of the most efficient steam-powered plants in the US.
Coal is generally considered one of the “dirtiest” sources of energy, meaning that the emissions rates of coal-burning plants are often comparatively high. However, many of these plants have taken steps to reduce the amount of pollutants they produce. For example, workers at Bull Run Fossil Plant use low-sulfur coal and technology called “scrubbers” to reduce some of the plant’s potentially harmful emissions.
Coal-Burning Plants and Public Health
When coal is burned, it can produce a number of emissions that may have long-term consequences for the environment and for people’s health. Potentially harmful pollutants associated with coal include:
- Sulfur dioxide, which contributes to acid rain
- Fly ash, which is solid waste that can be released into the air if it is not carefully controlled
- Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which contribute to global warming
These pollutants can be controlled if plant owners are committed to environmental protection. Unfortunately, they may not be the only hazards posed by a particular power plant. For example, in many plants constructed before 1987, asbestos can be found in the cement, paint, floor coatings, insulation, and other equipment.
Asbestos has been linked to a number of life-threatening medical conditions, including mesothelioma. If you have worked in or lived near an older power plant, it is important to let your doctor know about this potential health risk.