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16.3.04

Centralia, Ohio

Welcome to a special bonus post, brought to you by Sarah and Brian's laptop, a free AOL CD, and the hotel room's "data port" (aka extra phone jack). I don't have time to give any thrilling insight, but I thought I'd point to this story from USA Today:

Pollution Unites Town, But Solution Tears It Apart

... this is a place where things often don't work out as planned. The notorious blue plume, it turned out, was caused by attempts to clean the plant's smoke. And today, although almost everyone has moved out of Cheshire, the village is still in business, and the plant still faces complaints from people outside the village.

... Cheshire, meanwhile, is almost gone. The population, 221 in the last Census, is down to about 15 full-time residents. Of 97 houses, 78 have been torn down. Several others are stripped and waiting for the bulldozer. The Methodist Church, which had been auctioned off piece by piece, was demolished two months ago.

... The tall stack had diluted the plant's smoke over a wider area. But it also introduced it into the jet stream, where it traveled hundreds of miles east.

Now [with environmentally-mandated scrubbers in place] the bad air settled closer to home. Ash and other dirt collected on cars and ruined paint jobs. The plant had to settle insurance claims and issue car wash coupons.


I found the issue of changing pollution distribution to be an interesting environmental justice dilemma -- without the scrubbers, the pollution is dispersed to harm people in far-away places that never asked for it. With them, there is less pollution but it's more concentrated, causing acute problems for the nearby people.

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