Greener than you think: The Environmental Benefits of Coal Ash

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Every year, huge amounts of toxic waste become a growing environmental issue for most people living in countries heavily engaged in coal production. The risk the latter poses to people living in areas near the power plant is truly an environmental concern: Not only does it affect the people’s health; it also causes severe damage to the land.

Coal-producing power plants emit quite a lot of toxic chemicals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. But there is light at the end of this environmental tunnel, as governments make smarter decisions on the issue. For example, building an industrial zone far and away from residential houses is among the best solutions. And while most coal-fired power plants produce toxic substances, other chemical byproducts like alumina and silicon can be used as raw materials to build new products such as bricks and ceramics.

The use of recycled ash helps the construction industry cut down on the use of other high-priced products in building homes and other infrastructure. To be sure, more financial and technological investments are needed to develop such commercial applications, but production cost will be reduced in the long run. More importantly, the path toward the mitigation of pollution due to coal combustion will absolutely pay off if coal ash is put to good use. The reduction of fossil-fuel consumption necessary for the manufacture of products such as cement and lime will eventually save energy-operating cost as a result of recycled coal ash consumption. Use of other valuable natural resources like limestone and gypsums will be reduced, thus minimizing the exploitation of mines and quarry sites. These environmental benefits can be realized once coal-combustion products are fully utilized.

Putting up a waste disposal management system is definitely the best solution by far and it is making a huge contribution in a pursuit to effectively manage the waste coming from coal-fired power plants. More capital investments have been allotted in order to maintain the sanitary landfill.  Most of the landfills are situated in an area far and away from rural areas, where a few hectares of land will be dedicated to a landfill and developed in coordination with the government by means of subsidizing the operational costs.

Authorities are also developing monitoring guidelines to protect the land. Governments are more cautious of the consequences when mines and quarry sites are deliberately exploited. There were reported cases of overuse of quarry sites and approval for new mining sites is becoming more stringent. Governments are now more actively involved in closely monitoring the activity of these mines.

The holistic approach to addressing the environmental issues caused by coal consumption must be a continuing process in order to ensure that people will not face any detrimental consequences as a result of necessary progress. Industry sectors must continue to develop technologies that will help eradicate the ever-apparent issues relating to coal consumption. Recycling of coal ash should be done in a safe and efficient manner.  Proper waste disposal must always be taken into consideration.