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September 6th, 2012

Underground Coal Gasification

by Andrew Price, President & COO

An underground coal seam has been on fire in Centralia Pennsylvania since 1962. With no way to extinguish the fire, private homes were taken by the State of Pennsylvania under eminent domain and abandoned. Proponents of a little used technique to harvest coal - underground coal gasification - hope to harness the forces behind the Centralia disaster to revolutionize how we utilize coal. Underground coal gasification involves setting deep underground coal deposits on fire and harvesting the resulting “coal gas” for use in power plants and industry. The Centralia fire was set when the town’s volunteer fire department conducted a routine burn at the town landfill. The landfill was located in an abandoned coal surface mine. The fire traveled underground – but near enough to the surface to receive ample oxygen - and continues to burn unchecked.

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