The Virginia Tech coal plant provides about 8% of the school’s energy. Yes the campus needs to be powered, BUT there are alternative energy sources which would be safer for the students, and others, more sustainable and move Tech towards a more innovative and modern future.
The plant is located directly next to one of the dormitories, which houses over 350 students, and close to a number of academic buildings. This causes sanitation issues--students from the dorm have reported accumulations of black dust on their window sills and other surfaces.
There are also numerous potential health risks to those living close to coal fired power plants, as well as those in communities around mining sights. By-products of coal mining and combustion include SO2, NOX, particulate matter, and heavy metals, to name a few. These by-products pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink, and in turn pollute our bodies. Studies have shown a noticeable increase in heart and respiratory diseases, lung cancer and strokes in areas near and around mining and combustion sites. These are not simple ‘get some rest and you’ll be fine’ illnesses, these are life threatening.
Mountaintop removal is one of the more destructive forms of coal mining, one that Virginia Tech supports by buying coal from areas that use this process. Mountaintop removal involves blasting the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, SW Virginia and Kentucky to reach coal seams up to 400 vertical feet beneath the surface. People’s lands are taken from them and destroyed, rivers polluted and forests demolished. This process is devastating to the mountains, the ecosystems housed by the mountains and communities who reside in them.
Support Beyond Coal and Greenpeace in pushing Virginia Tech to follow their motto “Invent the Future” and invent a clean future, free of coal.