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The dangerous coal plant in Montana that provides Oregon power

I found an article from BlueOregon, a progressive blog from the Portland area, discussing where they get their electricity.

Colstrip: The dangerous coal plant in Montana that provides Oregon power.

Here in Oregon, we get a portion of our power from the notoriously dangerous Colstrip coal plant in eastern Montana. Owned in part by Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, Colstrip is home to one of the worst coal-ash storage sites in the country.

Notorious? Dangerous? Gee, I wonder why we never hear stuff like that from news sources in Montana? What could be dangerous about a little old coal plant out on the prairie?

In 2003, it was discovered that the coal-ash ponds at Colstrip were leaching dangerous heavy metals such as boron into the groundwater. Boron is lethal at 2 milligrams per liter, but in Colstrip, well water has turned up with boron concentrations 13 times the legal limit. Fifty-seven town residents sued the Colstrip plant for poisoning their water, and in May 2008 they won a settlement of $25 million. However, the ponds are still leaking, and the affected residents have stopped using their own wells and have switched over to city water provided by the operators of the plant, PPL Montana, from the Yellowstone River.

And yet, coal ash is currently less strictly controlled than household garbage.

The Bugle has covered many of the problems with “Clean Coal” and power plants. In Clean Coal – Dirty Water last fall we talked some about coal ash problems at the Colstrip plant. You might want to browse “Coal Ash: The Hidden Story” from the Center for Public Integrity to find out more.

“Pat Nees never liked the water at the Moose Lodge. Almost everyone in tiny Colstrip, Montana, drank and dined at Lodge #2190, but the well water was notorious — it smelled like a sewer. It felt oily, gritty from sediment. Lodge members braving a drink — Nees among them — frequently doubled over from indigestion.”

It’s just nice to hear when another news outlet decides to cover how bad coal power really is. Especially those folks to whom we export our filthy coal-powered electricity. Sorry ’bout that Oregonians, but hey, if you’re looking for a good deal on a couple million tons of “Clean Coal”, we’ve got this new primo stuff from Otter Creek that we can let you have real cheap…

As purchasers of power from the dirty and dangerous Colstrip coal plant we have a responsibility to speak out in favor of treating coal ash as toxic waste and encourage EPA to quickly implement the strong federal safeguards to protect the communities in Montana that bear the true cost of our energy use.


2 Responses

  1. We use that power here in Washington, too. :-/ Hopefully not for long!

    • Hopefully. I read somewhere that there is a push in Washington to get rid of coal-fired power plants. Does that include not buying power that comes from coal plants in other states?

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