A compilation of timelapse videos of the MidAmerican Energy power plant just south of Council Bluffs Iowa.

Submitted by Charles Frost on Thu, 01/28/2010 - 21:55.


A compilation of timelapse videos of the MidAmerican Energy power plant just south of Council Bluffs Iowa. The music is from the movie trailer for "The Shining"

Worth a few minutes IMO: http://vimeo.com/8756755




That's a lot of water vapor.  My estimate, based on the sources, 99.99% of it is completely harmless.  The other 0.01% would likely be sulfur dioxides and nitric oxides coming from the stacks.  Kudos to them for having cooling towers (source of almost all of the scary moisture), It allows the facility to efficiently use water in the cooling cycle of the facility.  Very efficient.  Additionally, the ACI injection, SCRs, and SDA's do a very nice job of virtualy eliminating all emmissions.


One bad thing about all that frightening hummidity...Its the #1 global warming pollutant in our atmosphere.


If you really want to know what's emitted from these plants, goto the links below for the facts.  The video posted above looks scary, but the process exhausts are extremely clean as you'll learn.





How close do you live to a major point source?

When I consulted with Boeing, they had a slide they liked to use at presentations showing how, if they performed at "traditional" 6-sigma product defect levels, under their circumstance - millions of passenger miles flown without fatalities - they would have fatal airplane accidents every few months - the widely accepted definition of a six sigma process is one that produces 3.4 defective parts per million opportunities (DPMO).

Too bad Boeing doesn't operate utilities... America and the world wouldn't be such a mess.

Your use of statistics is meaningless... and, having consulted for most of the major public utility companies in the nation, I can say your use of utilites as a source on environmental issues is absurd.

If that utility powerplant complex is operating with a level of .01% toxins of any sort in their emissions, the world is in deep trouble.

They may only cough out a few 100 pounds of lead per year... only 500-600 pounds of mercury... among all those gazillions of atoms of other materials, including H and O....

How about we spread a few 1000 micrograms of Pb throughout your home and property, and feed it to your children, if you have any... your mom, if not... a microgram (µg or sometimes ug) is a unit of mass equal to 1/1,000,000 of a gram (1 × 10–6), or 1/1000 of a milligram. It is one of the smallest units of mass (or weight) commonly used.

5 µg of lead per Deciliter of a child's blood is enough to cause permanent brain damage.

Where do you live?

My children and I live within two kilometers of a coal fired power plant, in one of the most toxic counties in America, and I invite you to see the outcomes of the micrograms of pollution over the years, first hand... in fact, I'll post some nice pictures for you....

Show me some pictures of your backyard, industryfetus.

Until then, I consider you an irresponsible troll here for the utility industry, or worse, and sub-human.

In closing, I repeat:

Environmental impacts of coal power:
air pollution

Houston smogSmoke plume
Smoke plume
Burning coal is a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming, and air toxics. In an average year, a typical coal plant generates:
    • 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary human cause of global warming--as much carbon dioxide as cutting down 161 million trees.
    • 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which causes acid rain that damages forests, lakes, and buildings, and forms small airborne particles that can penetrate deep into lungs.
    • 500 tons of small airborne particles, which can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death, as well as haze obstructing visibility.
    • 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), as much as would be emitted by half a million late-model cars. NOx leads to formation of ozone (smog) which inflames the lungs, burning through lung tissue making people more susceptible to respiratory illness.
    • 720 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), which causes headaches and place additional stress on people with heart disease.
    • 220 tons of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOC), which form ozone.
    • 170 pounds of mercury, where just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat.
    • 225 pounds of arsenic, which will cause cancer in one out of 100 people who drink water containing 50 parts per billion.
    • 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium.

There are certainly issues with water and powerplants, as well... just not the ones the Plain Dealer wants us to believe... from my better source than theirs:

Environmental impacts of coal power: water use

Lake MichiganBridge

A typical 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant draws about 2.2 billion gallons of water each year from nearby water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, or oceans, to create steam for turning its turbines. This is enough water to support a city of approximately 250,000 people.

When this water is drawn into the power plant, 21 million fish eggs, fish larvae, and juvenile fish may also come along with it -- and that's the average for a single species in just one year. In addition, EPA estimates that up to 1.5 million adult fish a year may become trapped against the intake structures. Many of these fish are injured or die in the process.

While we are exposing facts about coal-burning power plants, I'll also point out the wastes generated by plants such as the one operated here by FirstEnergy... from a reliable source:

Environmental impacts of coal power:
wastes generated

Cooling towerWaste

Solid waste

Waste created by a typical 500-megawatt coal plant includes more than 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber each year. Nationally, more than 75% of this waste is disposed of in unlined, unmonitored onsite landfills and surface impoundments.

Toxic substances in the waste -- including arsenic, mercury, chromium, and cadmium -- can contaminate drinking water supplies and damage vital human organs and the nervous system. One study found that one out of every 100 children who drink groundwater contaminated with arsenic from coal power plant wastes were at risk of developing cancer. Ecosystems too have been damaged -- sometimes severely or permanently -- by the disposal of coal plant waste.


Cooling water discharge

Once the 2.2 billion gallons of water have cycled through the coal-fired power plant, they are released back into the lake, river, or ocean. This water is hotter (by up to 20-25° F) than the water that receives it. This "thermal pollution" can decrease fertility and increase heart rates in fish. Typically, power plants also add chlorine or other toxic chemicals to their cooling water to decrease algae growth. These chemicals are also discharged back into the environment.


Waste heat

Much of the heat produced from burning coal is wasted. A typical coal power plant uses only 33-35% of the coal's heat to produce electricity. The majority of the heat is released into the atmosphere or absorbed by the cooling water.

And, especially considering all our leader's pathetic suck-in to the already failed AMP-OHIO coal subsidy fiasco of last year, you can be sure NONE OF OUR LEADERS, including the environment-haters at the PD, want you to think about the costs to the environment of getting the coal here to pollute the environment in other ways here... from a better source than at the PD...

Environmental impacts of coal power: fuel supply

Coal mine
Coal transportCoal loaderCoal minerCoal mine

Coal mining

About 60% of U.S. coal is stripped from the earth in surface mines; the rest comes from underground mines. Surface coal mining may dramatically alter the landscape. Coal companies throughout Appalachia often remove entire mountain tops to expose the coal below. The wastes are generally dumped in valleys and streams.

In West Virginia, more than 300,000 acres of hardwood forests (half the size of Rhode Island) and 1,000 miles of streams have been destroyed by this practice.

Underground mining is one of the most hazardous of occupations, killing and injuring many in accidents, and causing chronic health problems.


Coal transportation

A typical coal plant requires 40 railroad cars to supply 1.4 million tons in a year. That's 14,600 railroad cars a year.

Railroad locomotives, which rely on diesel fuel, emit nearly 1 million tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 52,000 tons of coarse and small particles in the United States. Coal dust blowing from coal trains contributes particulate matter to the air.


Coal storage

Coal burned by power plants is typically stored onsite in uncovered piles. Dust blown from coal piles irritates the lungs and often settles on nearby houses and yards. Rainfall creates runoff from coal piles. This runoff contains pollutants that can contaminate land and water.

My better sources than at the PD point out an intelligent strategy to develop wind power here is a way to combat the harm of burning coal - our leaders have stalled real progress here developing wind as a viable source of power for our region, instead putting our county prosecutor in charge of building this industry. He looks headed for serious legal and political problems, adding to the patheticness of our current state in addressing the realities of our environmental problems, which include all of the above.

We are not prepared to respond with solutions, like suggested by my better sources:

Coal vs. Wind


Coal generates 54% of our electricity, and is the single biggest air polluter in the U.S.



Air pollution: Burning coal causes smog, soot, acid rain, global warming, and toxic air emissions. Click on its photo to learn more.

Wastes generated: Ash, sludge, toxic chemicals, and waste heat create more environmental problems. Click on its photo to learn more.

Fuel supply: Mining, transporting, and storing coal levels mountains and pollutes the land, water, and air. Click on its photo to learn more.

Water use: Coal plants need billions of gallons of cooling water and harm wildlife. Click on its photo to learn more.

A typical (500 megawatt) coal plant burns 1.4 million tons of coal each year. There are about 600 U.S. coal plants.

Coal pollutes when it is mined, transported to the power plant, stored, and burned. Click on the pictures above left to see more about the kinds of environmental damage caused by coal.

Power plant photo credit: Warren Gretz, DOE/NREL

All our local, regional and state leaders have failed to position us to meet current national and global pollution control standards and we are not positioned to meet future standards. In the process, our leaders have failed in protecting us from all of the harm from pollution detailed above. That has killed our people and our economy.

So, we must legislate, regulate, measure, analyze, enforce, prosecute, and execute.

About Michael Scott - Northeast Ohio citizen's watchdog about the environment, at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who wrote the article I am analyzing here:

Michael Scott

About Me: 

I've been environment & weather reporter at The Plain Dealer since January 2007.
News reporter at the PD since November 1999.

Before that: Metro Editor, reporter at The Tribune Chronicle in Warren, Ohio, for 10 years.

Spent the 1980s as a reporter and editor at the late Geauga Times Leader in Chardon, Ohio.

Zip Code: 44026

About the Union of Concerned Scientists:

About Us


"UCS played a critical role in helping Californians to understand the serious impact of climate change, and in the state legislature UCS's analysis was instrumental in getting the votes needed to pass groundbreaking global warming legislation.

—Fran Pavley,
Former California Assemblymember"

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Founding Partner, Arcadia Partners"

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—Mel Coleman,
Chairman, Coleman Natural Meats"

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—John Petro
Founder, president, NovaTorque, Inc."

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Dr. Leon Lederman,
—Director Emeritus, Fermilab
Nobel, Physics (1988)"

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—Neil Lane,
Former director,
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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

What began as a collaboration between students and faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969 is now an alliance of more than 250,000 citizens and scientists. UCS members are people from all walks of life: parents and businesspeople, biologists and physicists, teachers and students. Our achievements over the decades show that thoughtful action based on the best available science can help safeguard our future and the future of our planet.

Disrupt IT

From the Troll

"NOOOOOORM!!!!" (From 'Cheers')

A sub-human? Troll?  That's classic, I actually laughed out loud.  I'm on this Blog to reply to missleading retoric and provide my point of view.  I'm here for my 3&5 year old girls, so they to are NOT brainwashed by the careless use of facts and scary pictures.  You throw PPB's and PPT's around like its a pound of chopped beef, very misleading. 

To answer your probing questions:  My family lives 7 miles from a power plant, we probably do have lead and mercury scattered around our home from the previous 71 years of use, we may even have picograms of dioxins floating in the air.  Not real concerned.  Our environment is massively cleaner than it was 30 years ago, yet the public perception is just the opposite because of misleading opinions like yours...NUTS.

In case you didn't read my previous reply close enough, I was specifically replying to the SCARY water vapor from the MidAmerica plant video in Council Bluffs, Iowa and the extremely expensive emissions reduction systems at that facility.  I posted a few links for you to get the FACTS. 

I'd love to give you a number of human lives improved by electric generation, natural gas use, and other utilities (water, sewer) but that would be common sense, and society doesn't track common sense. 

I appreciate opposing views when they provide an avenue for constructive dialog.  Your copy and paste of the "backyard" indicates your ability to be rational.

You have a closed-mind, you do not understand reality, and you're grumpy.  So sad.


Your pal,


Let's talk science, in our own backyards

Here is my backyard. My nearest coal burning pollution point source is the power plant represented by the international symbol for poison, in University Circle, Ohio, next to where my wife will deliver her baby in a week or so (because her insurance will not pay for a midwife to come to our home for home delivery... we are forced to the hospital... another subject for the big day...).

My family is represented by the international symbol for breastfeeding, about a kilometer away. We live downwind and at the bottom of a ridge at the same latitude as the plant. I'll post some photographs of the visible polllution damage to the historic neighborhoods all around this plant... can't say the only victims are poor blacks as Little Italy is fall-out zone #1, and the campus of Case Western Reserve University is dead center as well... pollution is colorblind and does not check your credit report.

The folks operating this plant actually want to build another coal plant even nearer to my house - 5 blocks away - and, like with their current plant, they call this progress. Progress for whom?

I believe I have put a stop to MMCO's clearly corrupt expansion plans, and I will get them to clean up their current plant, by being grumpy and right.

It is too late for my family to benefit from reducing pollution here, as we are poisoned and it will take years to change MMCO, but I will help other families for the future.

Will slightly cheaper, dirtier power allow researchers at University Hosptials to cure cancer faster, saving more lives than harmed by their excessive pollution? No.

Will cheap electricity allow University Hosptials to better serve my wife, who will only be in the hospital because progress means hospitals have a deal with the government to only pay for expensive, intrusive services... to pump her full of drugs?

This will be her third unnatural natural childbirth... guess what, our bodies are designed to have babies without doctors... don't take no drugs

Will Case students be smarter because their lightbulbs burn cheaper than in my neighborhoods?

No, they will be mutated for studying where they do.

I'm not grumpy, I'm lead poisoned... And that is as funny as I get.

I wish I lived 7 miles from a coal burning pollution point source rather than 1 kilometer, as is the case with my family.

You seem "scientific" so show us some charts and diagrams of the dispersion of pollutants from a coal burning point source factoring in distance, weather and topography... show us illustrations of something like this, but for your neighborhood...

Your world will look nice and sunny, 7 miles out, up-wind, from on-high.

I would be happier if it was disclosed to the public where there are major coal burning point sources so humans could make enlightened decisions to avoid living near them - my family is being poisoned by our greatest regional university, hospital and other cultural institutions to help them balance their financial portfolios... there is no real benefit from them using dirtier power than the rest of us, and there is great harm... and they keep all that a HUGE SECRET.

We are mutated and dying at the hands of a few industrialists... in Cleveland, primarily of the visible hands of the Mittal clan of Luxumburg, and foolish leaders here under similar contracts with eternity.

Perhaps my mutated friends, family and I need to all move to Beachwood.

Got room out there for 250,000 mutants? Big schools?

Disrupt IT

Normy, Normy, Normy



I have to point out the dispersion model you posted is from Warren, OH.  Not the Case Western site you claim.  If Case is burning significant coal, It's not being reported on the Ohio EP's site.  Help me out, post a site that indicates the volume of coal Case is burning.



86% of the power consumed in Ohio comes from coal.  Should it be shut off?  Would tomorrow be OK? 


You have many pointless questions but no solutions.


Your best buddy,


Solutions... including a site posting about burning coal at Case

So far, one solution I have provided is REALNEO. Here, we bring to the attention of all the harm caused by pollution in NEO and worldwide, including debate with virtual strangers like you.

Through realNEO, real Clevelander's learn about what is happening in the community and bring issues to the attention of all others who seek our shared communications, openly and freely - some abuse that, as you know, but most put that to the advantage of the community.

Through realNEO, I have exposed plans by MMCO to build a second coal fired power generation plant in University Circle - which seems a big secret despite how important news of that is for citizens - plans which I understand I have therefore derailed. I also understand the leadership of Case is seriously wondering why they are polluting their community as they are with their current coal-fired facility.

So, I stopped one coal fired power plant from being built, and I believe I can shut down another.

Video to come.

Other solutions my family practices and all should practice and preach is demand side management... Dougie. AKA conservation. We knew about all that when I was a baby. RealNEO seems to be the only place in the region where people still understand that concept, even as the world awakens to its necessity.

Yes, we should have shut down burning as much coal as possible over the many past decades we well knew the harm.

Good question about a dispersion map for MMCO and Case, which I point out will be something like the illustration above - let's get one. I imagine you know who to ask and so do I so let's each get to work and see who gets it done first.... lots of smart free labor at Case!

Disrupt IT

Now we're talking.


Well written, and thanks for establishing this Blog site.  This is my first Blog site...ever.  I enjoy it.  I can provide a counterpoint, and in some cases, supporting view of the blogs presented on RealNEO.  I like the idea of demand management approach to improving the environment, but there should be a balance between was someone if required to do vs. what they have a right to do as an American. 


Keep up the hard work, I'll be watching for posts that only provide a single (closed minded) perspective and offer additional input to their point.


Take care buddy,


A Post That Only Provides A Single (Closed Minded) Perspective.

From the Funny Times: http://www.funnytimes.com/issue.php?issue_id=201002

By refusing to deal honorably with others, you dishonor yourself.

Hey that's what McCain was promoting in 2008.


Good post.  A blend of green jobs, energy independence, sustainability all working towards a cleaning environment.  Would clean coal technology be a good bullet to have on that list?  It could fulfil the previous 3 bullets I highlighted? 





Did you see this video posted by Bill?

I thought this interview with Jeremy Rifkin was informative. Did you see it? You might have to hold your nose through the first half, but the second half where he describes non-hierarchical knowledge distribution and likens it to the energy distribution of the future with a smart grid that resemble the mycorrhizal nature of the internet... well I found it inspiringly thoughtful.

Here it is for you so you can see it right now and can click though to Bill's post for more discussion :)