Replacing Coal with Gas

We need to think about renewable resources in all areas of life.  We need to take responsibility for our usage of resources in industry and mining.  Please follow the links to read the original article.


Replacing coal with gas or renewables saves billions of gallons of water

Replacing coal with gas or renewables saves billions of gallons of water

OCTOBER 22, 2019
by Duke University

“The ongoing transition from coal to natural gas and renewables in the U.S. electricity sector is dramatically reducing the industry’s water use, a new Duke University study finds.

“While most attention has been focused on the climate and air quality benefits of switching from coal, this new study shows that the transition to natural gas—and even more so, to renewable energy sources—has resulted in saving billions of gallons of water,” said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

These savings in both water consumption and water withdrawal have come despite the intensification of water use associated with fracking and shale gas production, the new study shows.

“For every megawatt of electricity produced using natural gas instead of coal, the amount of water withdrawn from local rivers and groundwater is reduced by 10,500 gallons, the equivalent of a 100-day water supply for a typical American household,” said Andrew Kondash, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke, who led the study as part of his doctoral dissertation under Vengosh.

Water consumption—the amount of water used by a power plant and never returned to the environment—drops by 260 gallons per megawatt, he said.

At these rates of reduction, if the rise of shale gas as an energy source and the decline of coal continues through the next decade, by 2030 about 483 billion cubic meters of water will be saved each year, the Duke study predicts.

If all coal-fired power plants are converted to natural gas, the annual water savings will reach 12,250 billion gallons—that’s 260% of current annual U.S. industrial water use.

Although the magnitude of water use for coal mining and fracking is similar, cooling systems in natural gas power plants use much less water in general than those in coal plants. That can quickly add up to substantial savings, since 40% of all water use in the United States currently goes to cooling thermoelectric plants, Vengosh noted.

“The amount of water used for cooling thermoelectric plants eclipses all its other uses in the electricity sector, including for coal mining, coal washing, ore and gas transportation, drilling and fracking,” he said.

Even further savings could be realized by switching to solar or wind energy. The new study shows that the water intensity of these renewable energy sources, as measured by water use per kilowatt of electricity, is only 1% to 2% of coal or natural gas’s water intensity.

“Switching to solar or wind energy would eliminate much of the water withdrawals and water consumption for electricity generation in the U.S.,” Vengosh said.

Natural gas overtook coal as the primary fossil fuel for electricity generation in the United States in 2015, mainly due to the rise of unconventional shale gas exploration. In 2018, 35.1% of U.S. electricity came from natural gas, while 27.4% came from coal, 6.5% came from wind energy, and 2.3% came from solar energy, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).”


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Vacuuming Wood Dust

Be careful when dealing with dust!  Please follow the links provided to read the original article.


Vacuuming Wood Dust Can be Hazardous – Environmental Expert

Vacuuming Wood Dust

Dec. 2, 2016
Courtesy of SafetySmart

“It’s well known that wood dust is highly combustible, but the practice of removing it with vacuum trucks can also be dangerous, because of the potential buildup of static electricity.

WorkSafeBC has issued a bulletin stating that “static electricity discharges can ignite wood dust and therefore must be eliminated or adequately controlled during vacuuming.”

When wood dust or other fine, dry materials are vacuumed through a hose or pipe, the friction between the dust and the hose can generate static electricity. If the hose is made of a material that conducts electricity and is properly grounded, the static charge will safely dissipate into the earth.

However, WorkSafeBC notes that if the hose is non-conductive, a static charge will build up on its interior surface and could discharge with enough energy to ignite wood dust or other combustibles. Since plastic does not conduct electricity, plastic hoses are not safe to use for vacuuming wood dust unless they are embedded with a static wire.

Also, hoses that have ridged or corrugated interior surfaces should not be used for vacuuming wood dust. Using hoses with ridged interior surfaces results in more physical interaction between the dust particles—and between the dust particles and the hose—than using hoses with smooth interior surfaces. This increased interaction results in a static charge with higher amounts of static energy, making static discharge more likely.

WorkSafeBC says when vacuuming wood dust or other dry combustible materials, use only conductive hoses, nozzles and connectors that are designed to be used with those types of materials. If you are unsure whether a hose or other equipment is safe to use for vacuuming wood dust, check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Following are some additional wood dust vacuuming safety tips from WorkSafeBC:

Ensure that trucks are grounded directly to the earth or another verified ground before vacuuming starts. Also, hoses and all other parts of the truck and vacuum system should be properly bonded to each other.

Pay particular attention to ensuring proper bonding in baghouses (air pollution control devices), where the risk of dust ignition is high because of high volumes of dust and air that flow through them.

Ensure that vacuum trucks are regularly inspected and properly maintained. Pay particular attention to potential problem areas such as hoses, baghouses, vacuum pumps, collection boxes and filtration systems.

Conductive hoses should be tested regularly and removed from services if they have lost their conductivity.

Ensure that wood dust is safely removed before buildup of the dust could cause a fire or combustible dust explosion.

Ensure that workers follow manufacturers’ instructions, safe work procedures and occupational health and safety regulations, and are properly trained and supervised.”


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New Year 2020

Happy New Year!!  May 2020 be a year of blessings and happiness.

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Christmas 2019

From all of us at DustWatch CC, we trust you had a wonderful Christmas and will enjoy a prosperous 2020.

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Combustible Dust

Dust can be very dangerous!  Please follow the link to read the original article.


Combustible Dust: It Doesn’t Take MuchEnvironmental Expert

Combustible Dust

Dec. 2, 2016
Courtesy of SafetySmart

“A dust accumulation of 1/32 of an inch deep—about the thickness of a dime—covering just five percent of a room’s surface area doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough to cause a catastrophic explosion, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Although good engineering and safety practices to prevent dust explosions have existed for decades, there are no government standards for general industry requiring and enforcing policies aimed at preventing combustible dust explosions, according to the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

The CSB adds that many companies are not taking effective action to control dust hazards. Industries at risk for combustible dust explosions include food production, metal processing, wood products, pharmaceutical, chemical manufacturing, rubber and plastic manufacturing and coal-fired power plant operations.

Angela Blair, a former CSB investigator, says most solid organic materials will explode if the particles are small enough and they are disbursed in a sufficient concentration.

“What is so frustrating about dust explosions is that they are so preventable and I believe one of the reasons that dust explosions continue to occur may simply be a lack of understanding about the materials,” says Blair. “Some of the materials that could form combustible dust, and there are lots of them, could include coal, food products like sugar and flour, pharmaceuticals, many chemicals and even many metals.”

Like all fires, a dust fire requires fuel, oxygen and an ignition sources. A dust explosion requires two additional elements—dispersion and confinement. When the dust is confined within a structure or a piece of equipment, a powerful explosion can occur.

Dust may accumulate on surfaces such as floors, beams, rafters and lights and lie undisturbed for years. If a fire or explosion occurs, this accumulated dust can ignite in a series of explosions, with devastating results.

The chances of a combustible dust explosion occurring are greater during cold-weather months, because low humidity levels can make dust particularly easy to disburse and ignite.

The NFPA says preventing dust explosions involves designing facilities in such a way that combustible dusts cannot accumulate and migrate and performing rigorous housekeeping on a continuing basis to remove any dust that does build up.

The NFPA also recommends:

Vacuuming dust using specialized equipment designed for that purpose. Never use compressed air to clear dust accumulations because doing so can create a dust cloud that could easily explode in the presence of an ignition source.

Paying particular attention to out-of-the-way areas that might not be visible from the floor yet could contain dangerous buildups of combustible dust.

Having a laboratory test the potential for explosion of any materials in dust (powder) form that are present in your workplace.

In addition, your workers need to be trained to recognize and report combustible dust hazards so that they can be addressed before a disaster occurs.”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

When working in mining or industry there are certain health risks – hearing loss is one of them.  Read the article below to find out more about it.  Please follow the link to read the original article.


Noise-induced hearing loss protection and Mining Safety – Mining Safety

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable.

Unlike most occupational injuries, there is no visible evidence of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). It is not traumatic and often goes unnoticed when it first occurs. Noise-induced hearing loss accumulates over time, its effects realized long after the damage has been done. NIHL is permanent and irreversible. With proper education, motivation and protection, however, it is also 100% preventable.

According to the World Health Organization, noise-induced hearing loss is the most common permanent and preventable occupational illness in the world. In the European Union, NIHL is the most commonly reported occupational injury.

20% of EU workers are exposed to hazardous noise half their working time, 10% exposed full time (source: EU OSHA).

When is noise considered hazardous? Anytime you must shout at someone an arm’s length away to be heard.

While exposure to hazardous noise is common, prevention of NIHL is simple:

Consistent use of properly fitted hearing protection when exposed to hazardous noise. That is the goal of every Hearing Conservation Programme.
Noise-induced hearing loss is not solely a workplace issue. It can happen off the job, too. Many employees use power tools, attend loud rock concerts and sporting events, or participate in shooting sports.

All are opportunities for exposure to hazardous noise. Prevention is the key, on and off the job.

Indicators of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Although there are no visual signs, there are a few simple indicators of NIHL. Identification in its early stages can help prevent further damage.

Gradual Progression

NIHL rarely happens overnight. Rather, it accumulates over time with every unprotected exposure to hazardous noise, usually in both ears. This progression can be detected through healthy hearing practices, including the performance of annual audiograms on all employees in your Hearing Conservation Programme. Audiograms can identify whether your employees are experiencing a degradation in hearing, which indicates permanent damage and requires further preventative action.

High-Frequency Hearing Loss

When hearing impairment begins, the high frequencies are often lost first, which is why people with NIHL often have difficulty hearing high pitched sounds such as human voices, alarms and signals. Compared to other sounds, they will seem muffled or distorted.
With normal hearing, conversations are understandable if they are loud enough. When someone suffers from noise-induced hearing loss, simply turning up the volume does not make speech clearer. The clarity is adversely affected regardless of how loud the volume.

Common Symptoms

Those suffering from noise-induced hearing loss will experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or muffled hearing. Non-auditory effects of NIHL may include increased stress, high blood pressure, sleep problems and/or headaches.

As manufacturing, construction and other industrial endeavors are on the rise in Europe, so are the number of people exposed to harmful levels of noise in the workplace. Over 29% of all employees are exposed to hazardous levels of noise in at least one-quarter of their time in the workplace, and 11% are exposed at all times1 – and these trends are increasing.

While noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and irreversible, it is completely preventable. The new European Union Directive 2003/10/EC, aims to prevent employee exposure to harmful noise, while promoting a healthier and more productive workforce.”


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Siberian Gold Mine Dam Collapse

In October there was a gold mine dam collapse in Siberia – see the story below.  Please follow the link provided to read the original article.


15 dead after Siberian gold mine dam collapse, 3 arrested, Russia – Watchers

Posted by Julie Celestial on October 21, 2019

Siberian Gold Mine Dam Collapse

“Heavy rains caused a dam at a gold mine near Shchetinkino, Siberia to burst on October 19, 2019, at 02:00 LT, resulting in at least 15 fatalities, 26 injured, and 13 others missing. Russian authorities have also arrested the head of the mining company along with two other people for allegedly violating regulations.

According to Russia’s health ministry, 14 miners were sent to the hospital including three who were severely injured.

A criminal investigation has been opened after allegations surfaced that the dam violated safety regulations and was built illegally. The arrested suspects were the CEO, the senior manager, and the foreman of the site.

“The hydro-technical facility was self-constructed and, I believe, all rules I can and cannot think of were violated,” head of the Krasnoyarsk regional government Yuri Lapshin said.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the orders have been sent to authorities to provide aid and examine the factors behind the accident.

Floodwaters also swept several small cabins where workers have stayed.

The mine is located in a remote location about 160 km (100 miles) south of the city of Krasnoyarsk and 4 000 km (2 500 miles) east of Moscow.

Due to the increased water levels from the Seiba River, people are being evacuated from nearby Kuragino village.”


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More Dust Storms 2019

And here are some more dust storms that have occurred this year………..


Massive dust storm hits Mildura, Victoria, AustraliaThe Watchers

Posted by TW on May 7, 2019

“An impressive dust storm hit Australian city of Mildura, Victoria on May 7, 2019, turning day into night. This kind of phenomenon is usually seen in summer, not just before winter.

The storm moved through Mildura airport at 17:00 local time with wind gusts to 57 km/h (35 mph), the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said. Walpeup recorded gusts to 87 km/h (54 mph) and Hopetoun to 85 km/h (52 mph).

One of the residents described the storm as cyclonic and apocalyptic.”



At least 5 killed, 61 injured as severe dust storm sweeps through IraqThe Watchers

Posted by Teo Blašković on May 2, 2019

“A severe dust storm swept through southern Iraq on April 29, 2019, claiming lives of at least 5 people.

Southern provinces of Najaf and Karbala were the hardest hit.

At least four civilians were killed and 61 others were injured, Health Ministry spokesman said.

The Health Directorate in Najaf said one person was killed in the province and 20 others injured (due to downed trees and collapsed walls).”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Dust Storms in 2019

There have been quite a few dust storms in 2019 – take a look at a few.

Source – The Watchers –


Coldest September morning in 6 South Australia towns, dust storm warningThe Watchers

Posted by Julie Celestial on September 19, 2019

“Six towns in South Australia shivered through the coldest September morning ever on September 17, 2019. Meanwhile, Adelaide is expected to hit 30 °C (86 °F) for the first time this spring season on September 19 before the temperatures plummet again starting September 20.

The town of Yunta experienced the coldest weather on the morning of September 17, with a temperature of -3.2 °C (26.24 °F) recorded after 06:00 LT.

Meanwhile, Murray Bridge faced the morning with a temperature of -3.1 °C (26.42 °F), Snowtown with -2.3 °C (27.86 °F), Kingscote with -2.2 °C (28.04 °F), and Kadina with -1.7 °C (28.94 °F). Strathalbyn was the coldest with a low of -0.2 °C (31.64 °F). The entire area of Adelaide had a record low of 8 °C (46.4 °F) at 02:30 LT.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Vince Rowlands said the unusually cold morning was mainly the result of clear skies and light winds. “It just allows the heat to escape from the atmosphere and we just get those really cold temperatures,” he said.

A dramatic cool down is expected by Friday, September 20, accompanied by strong winds.

“A large area of the state is very dry and that could potentially produce fairly widespread areas of dust,” Matt Collopy, senior forecaster of Bureau of Meteorology, said.

The weather is predicted to drop at 16 °C (60.8 °F) with up to 15 mm (0.6 inches) of rain combined with gusts and dust storm.

Collopy said strong winds up to 100 km/h (62 mph) are forecast to hit Adelaide, Coober Pedy, Kingscote, Port Lincoln, Roxby Downs, and Whyalla on Thursday morning, September 19.

SES acting duty officer David O’Shannessy prompted motorists to be aware of surroundings and “avoid being under large trees that could fall under high winds.”

Dr. Nicola Spurrier, SA health acting chief medical officer, recommended people suffering from respiratory problems to stay out of the dust.”

Severe dust storm and lightning claim 26 lives, leave 57 injured across Uttar Pradesh, IndiaThe Watchers

Posted by Teo Blašković on June 7, 2019

“At least 26 people have been killed and 57 injured after severe dust storms swept over many parts of Uttar Pradesh, India late Thursday, June 6, 2019.

UP Relief commissioner said 6 people died in Mainpuri, 3 each in Etah and Kasaganj and one each in Moradabad, Badaun, Pilibhit, Mathura, Kannauj, Sambhal and Ghaziabad in incidents related to dust storm and lightning. At least 41 people were injured in Mainpuri.

Officials said the storms downed trees and walls, killing both people and farm animals.

The long dry spell and hot weather conditions increasing the surface temperature combined with unusually high western disturbances and cyclonic activity have contributed to this and thunderstorms in this season were not unusual, NewsNation reports. This brought some relief from the intense heatwave with temperatures dipping in north India.”


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Mining and the Ecosystem

We are all aware of our impact on the environment.  Is there a way forward in “green” mining?
Article sourced –
The effects of Mining on the Ecosystem
Updated April 24, 2017
By Jonas Martonas
“Ecosystems are affected by the physical perturbations of mining operations, as well as the chemical alterations in soil and water. Mining activities vary, but can include soil compaction and conversely, removal of the topsoil. These alterations disrupt nutrient dynamics by minimizing the availability of nitrogen and phosphorus, lower the pH through the acidification of the soil and can introduce toxic metals and acids. Depending on the scale and nature of the mining operation, these effects can be localized to the location of the mining or, through local hydrology, can extend to nearby aquatic systems, such as stream, wetlands and lakes.
Physical Effects
Soil compaction is one of the most severe effects mining has on ecosystems. Compaction is often the result of bulldozers and other pieces of large machinery moving across the landscape, often for many years while the mining is still in operation. As the soil is compacted, there are fewer pore spaces for oxygen and water to move through the soil profile, minimizing the potential for plant establishment. Also, as water is unable to percolate down through the soil, it inevitably will move across the surface of the landscape and increase the possibility of contaminating nearby aquatic systems, such as wetlands, streams and lakes. Conversely, the topsoil, which is typically the top 30 cm of soil, can be mined. This lowers the overall fertility of the soil and increases water movement through the soil and landscape
Chemical Effects
Mining operations often contaminate the soil with toxic heavy metals and acids. Acids can lower the pH of the soil, preventing plants and soil microorganisms from thriving, and can also react with various minerals in the soil that are required by plants, such as calcium and magnesium. The hydrogen ions from the acid absorb the soil particles, preventing other nutrients required by plants to remain in the soil. These chemical alterations can interact with soil compaction. Because water isn’t moving through the soil profile, some of the metals and acids can get carried away by the water, extending the mining effects throughout greater portions of the landscape. Elkins, Parker, Aldon and Whitford report in their article “Responses of Soil Biota to Organic Ammendments in Stripmine Spoils in Northwestern New Mexico,” in the “Journal of Environmental Quality,” 1984, that the addition of organic matter to mined lands can increase water retention in the soil, as well as the microbial process of nutrient accumulation and processing, potentially offsetting and minimizing the ecosystem effects from mining operations.
Plant Life
Ecosystems function because of the continuing interaction between the biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving) components. Because each component affects how all others function, the depletion of soil nutrients and the acidification and compaction of the soil profile can limit the amount of plant life that can colonize a location. With reduced plant biomass, less carbon is being processed via photosynthesis, which leads to less oxygen production, less standing biomass and reduced transfer and cycling of nutrients. Also, plants are key regulators in an ecosystem’s water cycling as they utilize moisture in photosynthesis and transpire water vapor back into the atmosphere. As such, the absence of plants in an ecosystem can inhibit the multiple functions and services commonly provided.”
Article from ThermoFisher Scientific
Green Mining: Can It Really Happen? Part 1
By Esa Nummi
“The environmental impact of mining activities is a key issue concerning the industry. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, enacted in 1977, provides many regulations to ensure mine sites are operated, and any environmental damage is remediated, in a responsible way. Read Mining and the Environment: What Happens When A Mine Closes? to learn about other U.S. regulations governing the mining industry and some of the issues they address. Remediation is just one part of reducing the environmental impact of mining; here we present a summary of some projects underway to initiate more responsible mining technologies, or “green mining.” In the article, Eco-friendly Mining Trends for 2014, Joshua Kirkey, Communications Advisor for Natural Resources Canada (NRC), defines green mining as  “technologies, best practices and mine processes that are implemented as a means to reduce the environmental impacts associated with the extraction and processing of metals and minerals. Examples include the reduction of greenhouse gases, selective mining approaches to reduce the ecological footprint, and reduction in chemical use. Green mining technologies and practices offer superior performance with respect to energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and the use of chemicals.” The article points out that green technologies are especially needed to address the tremendous amount of energy and water used by traditional mining methods, to improve mine closure processes, and that these practices need to be developed in a way that integrates well with current technologies. MIT’s Mission 2016: The Future of Strategic Natural Resources website addresses the need for more widespread Environmentally Sensitive “Green” Mining standards and techniques. The site presents a plan for improving efficiency and decreasing the environmental impact of mining is broken up into the following categories:
Shutting down illegal and unregulated mines
Choosing environmentally friendly general mining processes. In situ mining, for example, can be more environmentally friendly than underground mining and is cheaper than many mining methods.
Implementing recently discovered green mining technologies. These include mining from tailings, dust suppression techniques, liquid membrane emulsion technology, sulphuric acid leaching extraction process, impermeable tailings storage, and improved energy efficiency by using better ventilation systems and diesel engines
Cleaning up the sites of shut-down mines using R2 technology to recover metals while improving the condition of the land
Reevaluating cut-off grades to reduce waste and increase efficiency
Research and development of green mining technology in the areas of processing, clean water, and energy efficiency.
Mining Global’s article, Top 10 Ways to Make Mines More Environmentally Friendly echoes some of the suggestions put forth by Mission 2016:
Closing illegal and unregulated mines
Scrap mining and recycling
Better legislation and regulations
Improving environmental performance
Accurate tallying of toxic mining waste
Building from reusable waste
Closing and reclaiming sites of shut-down mines
Investing in research and development of Green Mining Technology
Replenishing the environment
Improving the efficiency of manufacturing processes.”
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