Coal power plants create a lot of waste, and the United States government is looking for places to get rid of all the waste.
A recent associated-press article has stated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has advised farmers that waste from coal plants, that has been treated by scrubbers, is safe to spread on their farm fields. The scrubbers remove dangerous sulfur dioxides, which changes the material into a compound known as synthetic gypsum. However, the waste material still contains not-so-desirable materials such as mercury, arsenic, and lead. The EPA has commented on these remaining minerals and says that they are present in extremely small quantities and will not pose a threat to crops, surface water, or human health.
There are environmental concerns that there is not enough known about this waste and farmers may not want to jump into this too soon. This could be a very risky addition to farm fields and it is important that all side affects of the application are considered. The EPA has already stated that it is appropriate in certain quantities, for certain soils, in certain hydrogeologic conditions. So there are clearly some major considerations that may have been overlooked, just to start disposing of the waste from coal plants. The photo below is a smoke stack from a coal power station, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t think that something that produces this, would ever be beneficial on our farmer’s fields.