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CASE STUDY: Drax Power Station North Yorkshire
Drax power station in North Yorkshire is the largest coal-fired power station in
Europe. It is capable of producing 4000 megawatts of electricity enough for 4
million people. It burns approximately 35,000 tonnes of coal a day, therefore it
produces a lot of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Tackling Acid Rain
Drax tackled the nitrogen dioxide by using high-efficiency low NO2 boilers.
To reduce the SO2 in the waste gases special equipment was fitted which
reduced emissions from around 250,000 to 100,000 tonnes per year. This
may sound like it is still a lot, but this proves that there are no instant
solutions. Progress is always in stages and not by dramatic moves. These
units remove 90% of the gases, so they are quite effective.
The Environment Agency set the maximum limit, which the power station
must not exceed.
The unit works by pressing the waste gases from the boilers through wet
crushed limestone, which absorbs the sulphur dioxide and becomes gypsum.
(The gypsum is then used to make plaster board). The relatively clean gas is
then released to the atmosphere. The process needs 1400 tonnes of
limestone a day. Most comes from the Peak National Park in Derbyshire.
NOTE the problem here: If you want to ban all mining in National Parks then
you will have to accept that power stations will pollute the atmosphere even
more. Often a compromise is the answer.
The Effects of Acid Rain
Whole forests are being destroyed Germany's Black Forest 90% of all
Germany's trees may have disappeared by 2100. The acid rain washes away
valuable minerals such as potassium and replaces them with manganese and
aluminium. The trees do not grow strongly and are killed off by drought or
disease which may follow.
Creatures such as squirrels which depend on the trees or ants that eat the
leaf fall are also reduced in number.
Fish life is threatened as the water becomes more acidic. Sweden suffers
from this despite having low industrial activity so where is the acid rain
Water supplies carry increasing amounts of aluminium. Some scientists have
linked this with Alzheimer's disease, bronchitis and even lung cancer.
Many famous and long-established buildings are being eaten away by acid
rain. The Parthenon in Athens (2500 years old), St Paul's Cathedral in
London (400 years old), have survived years with their fine stonework
intact. Since the arrival of industry, much damage has been done (in the past