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is vitally concerned with overall problems of pollution, and is especially interested in developing nuclear techniques or systems which would contribute to the solution of various industrial waste problems. The AEC actively promotes the maximum use by others of technology developed within the AEC complex. Further, the Commission stands ready to make AEC facilities available to other Federal agencies, where the Commission's special competence may be useful. In this connection, arrangements have been made for AEC and its national laboratory staff members to visit with the National Coal Association research group for technical discussions on the coal industry pollution problems.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Pollution abatement is one of the major factors being considered by the power industry in the selection of fossil fuels or nuclear reactors for electric power generation. Power reactor effluent control has been carried out in a safe and economical manner and these operations have not resulted in any harmful effects on the public, its environment, or its natural resources.
Waste management technology has been and is being developed which will continue to provide satisfactory environmental pollution control systems for the expanding nuclear power industry. Surveillance programs have been established to assure that concentrations of radioactive materials released to the environment are maintained well below internationally accepted health and safety standards. The costs of power reactor waste management to date have been nominal, and it is estimated that the future costs for treatment and storage of highly radioactive wastes which are produced in the chemical processing of irradiated reactor fuel will be substantially less than 1 percent of the cost of nuclear power in a 4 mill per kilowatt-hour economy. Instrumentation and analytical techniques using radioisotopes have been developed for use in nonnuclear environmental pollution measurement and control. Basic and applied meteorological research data from AEC programs are being used in industrial air pollution control programs.
The subject of industrial radioactive waste disposal was thoroughly and extensively discussed in hearings conducted by the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy in 1959. Among the salient conclusions reached as a result of the exhaustive JCAE hearings on this subject were (1) radioactive waste management practices have not resulted in any harmful effects on the public, its environment, or its resources; and (2) the general problem of radioactive waste need not retard the future development of the nuclear energy industry with full protection of the public health and safety. Even with the most optimistic nuclear power projections, we believe these conclusions are still valid.
The Commission is grateful for this opportunity to provide information on a subject of such vital significance to the people of the United States.
STATEMENT SUBMITTED TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, RESEARCH,
AND DEVELOPMENT, BY JAMES R. GARVEY, BITUMINOUS COAL RESEARCH, INC., SEPTEMBER 19, 1966.
My name is James R. Garvey. I am president of Bituminous Coal Research, Inc., which is the research affiliate of the National Coal Association. At our research laboratories at Monroeville, Pa., we are seeking through research to improve the means by which bituminous coal is mined, prepared, shipped, and utilized. A substantial portion of our research effort is devoted to finding means for controlling the pollution resulting from the mining and use of bituminous coal.
Our organization is supported by the bituminous coal industry, through the National Coal Association, and, in addition, receives financial contributions from the coal-hauling railroads, coal mining and utilization equipment manufacturers, and a number of the leading electric utility companies.
We believe the objective of the hearings by this committee, namely, to assess the technology for pollution abatement, to be a most laudable one. The coal industry, like many other industries, is alarmed by the rate at which legislative action commanding pollution abatement has accelerated well beyond the rate of development of feasible means for accomplishing that abatement; especially in light of the questionable need in some instances for abatement. The situation was well described by Dr. Abel Wolman of the Johns Hopkins University in his special report on pollution made to the Management Advisory Panel of this subcommittee.
A review of the present status of water, air and land pollution and proposals for abatement thereof make reasonably clear that corrective legislation has quite well outrun both factual basis for action and smooth machinery for development and regulation.
We appreciate the opportunity to present this material, and it is our intention, in line with the objectives of the hearings, to review the state of the art of abatement, primarily, of air pollution resulting from the combustion of bituminous coal, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the abatement of water and land reclamation involved in the mining of coal. We will attempt to brief you on the research and control methods which are currently underway and the expectations we have for the attainment of improved pollution control methods which will enable a reduction in coal's contribution to air and water pollution and land reclamation problems, and at the same time, enable the coal industry to continue as a vital part of our industrial economy.
Bituminous coal is vital since it is the primary source of heat energy used in the generation of electricity and the carrying out of many industrial processes. It is estimated that during 1966 about 263 million tons will be used for electric generation, 106 million tons will be used directly by general industries, and 94 million tons will be used in the form of coke for the manufacture of steel. This 463 million tons, combined with somewhat lesser amounts used for other purposes,
including export, will bring the total bituminous coal production this year to about 534 million tons. This coal production, in addition to providing an important contribution to our industrial progress, also provides employment for more than 128,000 men and contributes $2.5 billion to the national economy.
When this bituminous coal is utilized for the generation of heat energy, whether for conversion to electricity or for direct use in industrial processing, a number of byproducts considered pollutants are produced. These include smoke, which is unburned carbon; ash, which is the noncombustible portion of the coal; and gaseous oxides of certain foreign elements in the coal, notably sulfur. The coal producers, in cooperation with those who use coal, have a long record of accomplishment in the development of means for controlling these pollutants.
The emission of smoke from a coal-burning plant is, and should continue to be, a thing of the past. Through intensive research, carried out almost 20 years ago, the technology for coal combustion without smoke pollution was developed and the modern, coal-burning plant of today emits practically no unburned carbon.
A similar situation exists with regard to the uncombustible ash of coal. The development of mechanical and electrostatic collectors has progressed to where the stack emission of "fly ash” in modern plants can be reduced to less than 0.5 percent of the original ash in the coal. Because the development of this ash control equipment is more recent than that of smoke control, not all coal-burning plants are so equipped. But as old plants are phased out of use through obsolescence, and new plants are constructed to replace them, this high-efficiency ashcollection equipment is being installed. The electric utility industry, in particular, should be commended for their efforts in the development of such equipment and the investment of non-profit-making capital to the extent of millions of dollars per plant to enable this achievement in dust control. And the ultimate in the control of dust has not yet been achieved. Research still continues and the more recent development of bag filters, which remove almost 100 percent of the dust from the gas stream, are currently being tested by a number of large utility companies.
The third byproduct which I mentioned earlier, namely, the oxides of sulfur, are the cause of the most concern at the present time. The technology for controlling this so-called pollutant is by no means as advanced as that for control of smoke and fly ash. This is perhaps understandable because it has been apparent for many years that unburned carbon in the form of soot, and unburned other constituents of coal in the form of fly ash, were true pollutants. One could see them, feel them, and readily assess the damage being done. No such means for assessment of the damage of sulfur oxides has been possible. One cannot see them or feel them, and the only way one is aware of their existence is in extreme cases wherein the concentration rises to the point where one can smell them. But this is a rare instance, and the concentrations of sulfur oxides in the air are for the most part so low that we are not aware they exist. Whether their existence is detrimental to health is a matter which has not been resolved. As was pointed out in the report of the Environmental Pollution Panel of the President's Science and Advisory Committee, “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment":
While we all fear, and many believe, that long continued exposure to low levels of pollution is having unfavorable effects on human health, it is heartening to know that careful studies have so far failed to produce evidence that this is so
Further along this line, the report of the Research Advisory Panel of this Subcommittee on Science, Research, and Development, entitled “The Adequacy of Technology for Pollution Abatement,” stated :
The facts on the physiological responses of man to long-term low-level exposure to pollutants are lacking, but are necessary for setting criteria and standards. "No evidence has yet been produced that low levels of pollution have unfavorable effects on human health.
However, so that I will not be misunderstood and accused of quoting out of context for a special purpose, I want to hasten to add at this point that the same report from which the foregoing quotation was taken went on to say:
But abnormal changes in animal populations are considered to be warnings of potential hazard.
We, the coal industry, acknowledge that the danger of a potential hazard exists. We believe every effort should be made to define the extent to which such a hazard exists and at the same time to develop means for needed control of the pollution which causes it. We urge that criteria and standards for pollution control be based on factual information and not on emotions. We also urge that until the exact levels of pollution which are dangerous to man have been established, the criteria and standards be set with reason in accordance with the state of the art of the technology for their control.
What is being done by industry itself in line with the determination of the tolerable degree of exposure and the development of methods for control of sulfur oxide pollutants? Our organization has been engaged in research directed at the control of this pollutant for over 10 years. In the conduct of most of this research, we have had the financial support and technical guidance of the electric-utility industry through the Edison Electric Institute and the Association of Edison Electric Cos. This research has resulted in greater knowledge of the occurrence of sulfur in coals and the development of guides for removal prior to combustion, as well as increased knowledge of the complex chemistry necessary for the development of processes for recovery of sulfur oxides from the flue gases after combustion. And, as of January 1. 1966, our program has been expanded, again in cooperation with the utility industry. A projected 5-year program has been developed at an estimated cost of $4.3 million. This research, in summary, will include:
1. A thorough study of the physiological effects of sulfur oxides, both alone and in combination with other air contaminants. This work is being carried out by the Hazleton Laboratories of Falls Church, Va. In addition, our organization, in cooperation with the oil industry and the steel industry, is sponsoring another project at Mellon Institute, also directed at determining the physiological effects of sulfur oxides. While both of these research programs will utilize animals instead of humans to study these effects, it is anticipated that the results will provide guidelines for determining the susceptibility of man to low-level exposure of pollutants.
2. Our organization, in its own laboratories, is carrying out research directed at the development of equipment which will enable the removal of additional quantities of sulfur from bituminous coals before they are burned. In many bituminous coals, the sulfur occurs primarily as a mineral pyrite which, if the coal is crushed fine enough, can theoretically be removed. However, because of the extreme fineness of crushing required (to as fine as talcum powder) in order to free these pyrite particles, the development of the necessary technology and equipment is progressing slowly. But, progressing it is, and we expect some time late this year to have installed at a central Pennsylvania powerplant the first pilot unit for achieving this reduction in sulfur content of coal.
3. We are also carrying out accelerated research on the development of low-cost methods for recovering SO2 from flue gases following combustion. Our present research is directed at the injection of chemicals into the flue gas stream,
which will react with the oxides of sulfur and deposit them with the fly ash. Again, the development of the necessary knowledge of reaction rate of various chemicals, the most effective temperatures at which the reactions should be carried out, and other design data cannot be achieved immediately. It is our intention that the basic laboratory work will be completed some time early next year, and trial installations on a full scale can be started shortly thereafter.
In addition to the research which we are doing, a number of others, including both Government and private industry, are carrying out extensive investigations. Both the Bureau of Mines and the Public Health Service are investigating processes for sulfur oxide recovery. The Bureau of Mines work will move into the early pilot stages this year, and hopefully, a full-scale installation can be made sometime the latter part of next year. The Public Health Service work, we understand, includes an evaluation and possible erection in this country of a pilot unit incorporating a process which has been developed in Germany
Investigations by the manufacturers of equipment includes the installation of wet gas scrubbing processes. One of these has already been installed for test at a powerplant, and another is projected for installation late this year.
And, in this overall effort directed at finding a means for economical control of sulfur oxide pollutants, one of the large chemical companies, a primary supplier of sulfuric acid to industry, in cooperation with a utility company, is constructing on a substantial scale the equipment necessary for recovering the sulfur oxides from flue gases in the form of sulfuric acid which that company then will market.
In summary, the state of the art of control of pollutants from the combustion of coal is moving forward on all fronts. As I pointed out earlier, the technology for control of smoke in fly ash is already available in an advanced state, and additional progress is being made. However, much still remains to be done, despite an expanded research effort by industry, in connection with the control of sulfur oxides. Those processes which are most advanced in technical feasibility are still at the present state of development far too expensive to install and operate, especially in light of the lack of knowledge regarding the degree of control which is necessary to protect human health.