In the U.S., about 50 percent of electric power is generated by burning coal. A typical large coal-fired power plant generates more-or-less 1000 megawatts of electric power. SONGS generates about twice as much.
One coal-fired plant burns about 4,000,000 tons of coal every year.
Each plant will need a coal train of more than 100 hopper cars with four to six locomotives towing them and spewing diesel exhaust every day.
One coal-fired plant produces about 300,000 to 500,000 tons of coal ash every year. That’s a pile of toxic contaminating residue that would fill a container the size of a football field to a height of about 200 feet every year.
That one coal-fired plant each year emits around 2 to 5 tons of uranium, 5 to 12 tons of thorium and 14 million tons of carbon dioxide into the environment and atmosphere.
That coal-fired plant also emits mercury, radioactive potassium-40, radon, lead, and other toxins in very significant quantities, continually.
The radiation released into the environment by a coal-fired plant is about 100 times greater than what’s released by a nuclear plant.
In the U.S. alone, it is acknowledged that 10,000 to 30,000 (depending on whose statistics you believe) untimely deaths are caused every year as a result of pollution caused by coal-fired plants.
And, of course, coal, as is oil and natural gas, is an exhaustible resource, and we will eventually use it up.