The Environmental Abuses by the Powerplant Company
First and foremost it must be mentioned that 80% of the worlds current power supply comes directly from of which coal burning power plants contribute a great percentage to.
As populations grow within particular urban centers the demand for power increases and as such it has been shown by studies such as those by French (2008) that the predilection of most global governments has been to create more fossil fuel burning power plants due to their relatively inexpensive cost in building and the fact that they have worked effectively for so long (French, 2008).
Unfortunately several independent studies which examined the water quality of rivers near powerplants revealed that on average such rivers only contained 5 percent of the amount of oxygen fish needed to survive as well as also contained sulphate levels that were shown to be 125 times more than what was recommended.
Further exacerbating the problem were the presence of high levels of metals such as zinc, copper and manganese which made the water almost undrinkable by human standards. As a direct result of the presence of these particular additives to the water the overall PH level (acidity) was recorded as being 1000 times higher than what it should have been with the water taking on a salty taste due to salinity levels being 80 times that of normal river water.
What must be understood is that fossil fuel powerplants require a large amount of water in order to generate electricity and as such a large percentage of fossil fuel powerplants currently in operation are usually located near large bodies of water.
As explained by the study of Bhanarkar, Gajghate, & Hasan (2003) not only do these types of powerplants present a health hazard risk due to the amount of carbon dioxide and coal particulates released into the atmosphere on a daily basis but the runoff water that comes from this particular method of energy production often contains significant amounts of metal particulates that are a direct result of the (Bhanarkar, Gajghate, & Hasan, 2003).
This can often lead the deterioration of ecosystems located in local rivers and streams as the amount of metal particulates not only slowly poisons the fish but can actually cause a certain degree of cloudiness in the water which in effect constrains the growth of in lower oxygen levels within that particular body of water.
Given enough time the level of pollution caused by a fossil fuel burning powerplant will not only cause significant respiratory ailments to occur within the local human population but can cause other ailments to arise as well (Reebs, 2004). On case example of this can be seen in the city of Lithgrow, located roughly 150 kilometers west of Sydney.
Based on the latest data by the Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) the city of Lithgrow has one of highest rates of prostate cancer, asthma and lung related illnesses as compared to any other region within the state.
In fact based on estimates by the SWAHS, citizens of Lithgrow have a 20 percent greater propensity for cancer and a 50 percent greater risk for heart attacks and as such are indicative of something seriously affecting the local population.
All of these ailments are being hypothesized by as being the direct result of long term exposure to a polluted water source wherein despite the fact that the amount of foreign particulates in the water supply has been reduced to several parts per million as a direct result of purification processes the fact remains that long term ingestion of such substances has here-to unknown health risks which the residents of Lithgrow are only now manifesting.
While it may be true that governments have the responsibility in ensuring the continued safety and health of their populace the fact remains that in the case of the ever increasing power demands of urban population centers it is apparent that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
In the case example presented the apparent effect of building power plants within the area indicated takes precedence over the health and well-being of the citizens within Lithgrow. How else can it be explained that despite the flagrant environmental abuses by the powerplant company their activities have continued to remain in operation.
The fact is that governments can ill-afford any interruptions to a citys voracious appetite for power, stopping operations at powerplants that have exhibited flagrant abuses of the environmental code would cause a within a city and would affect the local economy which would definitely be detrimental for the government.
It is from this that it can be seen that there are inherent limitations in the implementation of new forms of energy production due to the continued rise of demand. As such it can be expected that within the near future many more cases such as those similar to Lithgrow will occur in other areas of the world as governments race to feed the voracious hunger of cities for electricity.