Monday, February 18, 2008

A Town on Fire

I was watching the History Channel today and learned about the town of Centralia, PA. It is an interesting and tragic study on energy, policy, and the environment. In 1962, a controlled garbage burn found its way into the anthracite coal mine. The fire spread throughout the coal vein and under the town and eventually people got sick from carbon monoxide poisoning. The federal government appropriated $42 million to relocate the town’s residents in 1982 after determining the cost and damage to the town was too great to extinguish the flames. Now less than 20 people live in Centralia. Some estimate that there is enough coal in the vein for the fire to burn for over 100 years.

Here is some amateur footage of Centralia.

Anthracite coal has the highest carbon content. I wonder what the carbon emissions from the years of burning coal. Will it ever be feasible to put the fire out? I see a lot of wasted energy and unnecessary pollution.

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