I’d like to say I learned something on the tour of the coal power plant, but we had to wear goggles, hard hats, and insert these orange earplugs, so I could barely hear at all. (We also had to wear natural fibers. I guess they didn't want us wearing anything too flammable.)
Our tour leader was so enthusiastic. He kept pointing to things and opening and closing his mouth. We all nodded and stared at him vaguely. This must be what it's like to be deaf, I thought. The building was humming and giving off a smell like hard-boiled eggs.
When I leaned in close, I could hear an occasional sentence from the tour guide . . .
This is where the pulverized coal is blown into the furnace.
This is the fireball. It's 2000 degrees. (It hurt my eyes to look at it. The sun's surface is 6000 degrees.)
This is where the steam is returned to water.
This is where the plant is monitored. (It was this room with both modern computer equipment and the old technology: levers and dials and I'm not at all sure what else.)
This is the roof, and from here, you can see the coal heap. You can see the water we used for cooling. It’s clean enough to swim in.
Would you swim in it? I asked.
No, he laughed.
Do you worry about the ash? I asked. (On the rooftop, there was a dusting of ash blowing around.) But I don’t think he heard my question.
4 months ago