In December 2007 Scientific American published a report on coal power plant radioactive releases and compared these with those from an operating nuclear energy station. To the surprise of many in the general public, coal station emissions are A LOT higher than an operating nuclear plant.
In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy.
According to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), the average radioactivity per short ton of coal is 17,100 millicuries/4,000,000 tons, or 0.00427 millicuries/ton. This figure can be used to calculate the average expected radioactivity release from coal combustion.
- Coal stations are distributed worldwide
- Coal emission are unregulated for radioactivity and imposing regulations onto them now is almost impossible
- Fly ash is typically stored in open air basins that have been known to fail.