July 2009 Archives

Discovery Channel Centralia Coal Fire (You Tube)centralia.jpg"We can't afford to waste energy like this!" one EM SC 100S Leap student exclaimed. On July 29, students visited Centralia, Pennsylvania to see a community destroyed by a mine fire. The fire started in May 1962. Firemen, who had been hired by the borough, set fire to a land fill. Anthracite coal, which was lying close to the surface of the land fill, ignited. The fire spread through the mine shafts, and it continues to burn today. The consequence of this environmental disaster has left Centralia a ghost town of fewer than ten people.

Students also toured the Museum of Anthracite Mining to learn more about anthracite coal and mining methods. Many students were struck by the hardships of mining life and related it to their own families. One student said, "My grandfather was a miner, and I felt like I was viewing what his life must have been like." 

It was another educational experience with an additional unexpected adventure: a tow truck! Luckily the tow truck wasn't needed because of subsidence--only bus driver folly and too much rain.
Bus trouble Field Trip Centralia 1.jpg

leap 3.jpegA group of eleven students and four faculty (including me) visited Pottsville, PA to see Schuylkill Energy Resources on July 22, 2009 as part of the LEAP experience. The tour provided an up-close look at electrical generation and reclamation.

In today's class, students composed the following thank you note to the plant manager, Kurt Knitter: "We learned a lot about a variety of topics. We especially enjoyed learning about the beneficial use of ash and the difficulties associated with the reclamation of attractive nuisances. We were impressed with the compact system turbine, the miles of conveyor belts, and the recirculation of 60,000 gallons of water per minute."

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