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The Mechanics
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Environment/Sustainability Thu Mar 31 2011

The Weight of Coal

Haunting images of Chicago's polluting Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants, which Little Village and Pilsen residents have sought to shut down for years, are slowly becoming more familiar to city residents as more media organizations report on the concerning environmental topic. This video, however, shows an even deeper side to the weight of coal. Uploaded by YouTube user John Sheehan, or dogstar7, it shows tons of coal passing through the city on freight trains.

 
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WAJ / March 31, 2011 2:07 PM

Yeah, totally haunting. A train filled with coal heading on its way thru Chicago to some destination unknown.

Commerce, also known as an economy, is scary.

Some say the railroads made Chicago into the city it became, others say it was the solar power, er wind power, er green jobs, yeah! green jobs...

Ramsin / April 1, 2011 8:25 PM

Sheila,

Thanks for posting this, it's a reminder that coal plants abutting residential neighborhoods are causing thousands of cases of asthma and dozens of cases of preventable deaths associated with it every year among the families in those neighborhoods. Seeing all that coal, which is causing such serious health problems, is a reminder of that problem.

WAJ / April 4, 2011 4:29 PM

...except that if these plants "caused" thousands of cases of asthma, then we would expect to see that Little Village would have the highest rates of asthma per capita in the Chicagoland area, since the power plants abutt that neighborhood.

However, it appears that proximity to one of these plants is a poor correlating factor.

http://www.chicagoreporter.com/index.php/c/Web_Extras/d/The_Air_Apparent%3F

- * Youth asthma hospitalization rates were higher in 15 suburban Cook County municipalities than in any ZIP code in Chicago. West suburban Stickney had the highest suburban rate at 1,820 hospitalized for every 100,000 youth

- * Of the 10 Chicago ZIP codes with the highest youth asthma hospitalization rates, nine are located in ZIP codes where blacks represent the largest racial group (obviously not Little Village or Pilsen).

- In 2004, the rates of four Chicago ZIP codes—60637 (Lawndale), 60649 (Jackson Park), 60644 (Oak Park and Maywood), and 60610 (Gold Coast and Cabrini) —and nearly 30 suburban Cook County municipalities were more than double the national rate of 274 hospitalizations for every 100,000 youth. None of those neighborhoods are near those power plants.

So demonstrable figures do not support the thesis. If we are going to look for "the truth", then lets not stoop to showing a train going out of the city (rather than into the city) to raise asthma and respitory disease awareness. Its rather cheap propaganda, no?

If the correlation doesn't fit, perhaps its better to highlight other areas that may affect asthma and respitory diseases, such as mold, genetics, interior air quality, etc...

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