Power Plant Explosion Casts New Light On New York’s Dirty Fuel AddictionThe transformer explosion that illuminated the New York City skyline late Thursday night came from one of the state’s dirtiest plants, casting new light on the city’s dependence on antiquated oil-burning power stations and bolstering calls for cleaner electricity.
This densely-populated area of northwestern Queens provides nearly half the city’s electricity from aging plants that burn number 6 fuel oil, a thick, viscous oil blend considered one of the most polluting energy sources in the world.
The Astoria Generating Station, where the explosion occurred around 9 p.m., burns 3,039,000 gallons of number 6 fuel oil a year. The Ravenswood Generating Station, the towering four-smokestack facility on the East River in Long Island City, burns another 3,264,000 gallons per year and was ranked as the state’s largest carbon polluter in 2014.
The New York City Department of Health found higher air pollution levels in Astoria and Long Island City than the rest of the borough or city. According to the city’s most recent community health report for the neighborhoods, the levels of PM2.5 ― the most harmful type of particulate matter, fine-grain pollutants that wedge into lungs when inhaled ― hit 8.9 micrograms per cubic meter. That compared to 8.5 micrograms per cubic meter in Queens overall and 8.6 citywide.
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Local officials have long blamed the plants for higher levels of asthma, and last year the city council passed a bill requiring the utility operators to stop using fuel oil number 6 by 2020 and number 4 oil by 2030. But the explosion on Thursday night could add new pressure to go further, phasing out fossil fuel use altogether and converting the stations to renewable sources.
“This is a very old and very polluting power plant that should have been shut down quite a while ago,” Judith Enck, the former Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator for New York, told HuffPost late Thursday. “It’s a reminder that New York needs to accelerate efforts to phase out fossil fuels.”
good find. this was a problem in my neighborhood too, until recently hi-risers were ordered to switch their heating oil. pictures such as in this article i used to see every day.
You do realise that cherenkov radiation also produces an eerie blue glow. Hope petee has a gieger counter and lead underpants.Anyway. After a bit of googling.
"When energy is deposited to air, the air molecules become excited. As air is composed primarily of nitrogen and oxygen, excited N2 and O2 molecules are produced. These can react with other molecules, forming mainly ozone and nitrogen(II) oxide. Water vapor, when present, may also play a role; its presence is characterized by the hydrogen emission lines. The reactive species present in the plasma can readily react with other chemicals present in the air or on nearby surfaces.
Deexcitation of nitrogen
The excited nitrogen deexcites primarily by emission of a photon, with emission lines in ultraviolet, visible, and infrared band:
N2* → N2 + hν
The blue light observed is produced primarily by this process. The spectrum is dominated by lines of single-ionized nitrogen, with presence of neutral nitrogen lines."
Ionized-air glow - Wikipedia