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Showing posts with the label monitoring stations

Peat Fire Burns On

I took a break from blogging for a couple of weeks over Easter, and for that entire time peat bog fires have been burning here in southwestern Victoria.

Peat fires have been smoldering at Cobrico since St Patrick's day, creating significant air pollution for almost a month now.  Vulnerable elderly residents and school students have been relocated, and a dedicated water pipeline has been constructed to help battle it.

Burning peat bogs present particularly nasty environmental problems because they are difficult to extinguish and produce highly toxic smoke.  Peat does not burn in a hot, raging fire, meaning that the fuel source can last for many months, and also that the smoke produced is heavily laden with toxic fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide; these pollutants would be more fully consumed in a hotter blaze.  Peatlands also tend to extend over large inaccessible areas, and can smolder at depths of several metres.

Peat fires present a broader global environmental proble…

Another Dirty Side to Coal

Coal is dirty and it can't be cleaned.
We just saw another facet of this problem when particulate matter reached hazardous levels across much of the Hunter Valley on Monday.  Specifically, PM10 levels (the concentration in air of particles 10 micrometers and smaller) were reported to have exceeded national air quality standards at all nine monitoring stations in the coal mining hub of the Upper Hunter.  The cause, not surprisingly, looks to be coal mining.
Although carbon dioxide is the pollutant of most concern from coal, there are a range of air quality issues that arise from the mining, transport, and burning of this fossil fuel.  Even if we do manage to remove CO2 from the emissions of coal fired power stations we can't guarantee that other pollution sources will be eliminated, and this is why "clean coal" is a fallacy.  The mining and transportation of coal, as we saw on Monday, releases dangerous particles into the air.  These particles have both acute and chr…