Closing plants mean mess
Federal and state officials have another question to answer, as communities across the country — but particularly here in Appalachia — face the realities of a changing economic and energy landscape. What happens to the shuttered coal-fired power plants once they are no longer keeping the lights on?
Unfortunately, the folks in Clermont County are getting a first-hand look, as pieces of the retired Walter C. Beckjord power plant toppled into the Ohio River … and stayed there this winter. Metal, bricks, mortar and more mess created enough of a problem that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has ordered contractors to clean it up.
“I do have huge concerns,” Pierce Township Fire Chief Craig Wright told another media outlet. “It’s not just Clermont County’s drinking water, it’s the city of Cincinnati’s and Hamilton County’s and Northern Kentucky’s. It’s much larger than just us.”
According to the Sierra Club, Ohio has more coal plant closures and retirements announced than any other state. Who, then, will be responsible for making sure those closings don’t leave dangerous and unmonitored sites to create bigger problems down the road? Will we see an increase in the number of former facilities listed as Superfund sites, or will there be measures put in place to ensure the owners of these properties do the job properly from the start?
It is yet another piece of the puzzle that will require careful planning as we forge ahead with the diversification of our economy and our energy portfolio. Federal and state officials must be sure the work they are doing does not leave behind both a literal and figurative mess.