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The Acid Sludge Streaming Out of Germany’s Coal Mines


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The Acid Sludge Streaming Out of Germany’s Coal Mines

Imagine a Sunny Delight factory exploded in the gloomy realm of Mordor, spilling streams of “orange drink” through the land. That’s what Tom Hegen’s photos look like. Only thing is, they weren’t shot on Mordor—it’s Germany—and that tangy-looking liquid isn’t anything you’d want for breakfast. It’s acid mine drainage from coal mines.Hegen flew above lignite…

The Acid Sludge Streaming Out of Germany’s Coal Mines

Imagine a Sunny Delight manufacturing facility exploded within the downhearted realm of Mordor, spilling streams of “orange drink” by way of the land. That’s what Tom Hegen’s photos watch delight in. Handiest thing is, they weren’t shot on Mordor—or no longer it’s Germany—and that tangy-taking a watch liquid is no longer anything you’d desire for breakfast. It be acid mine drainage from coal mines.

Hegen flew above lignite mines within the Lusatia mining district of jap Germany.Characterize: Tom Hegen

The Jupiter-hued liquid is a consequence of mining lignite—a subtle, waterlogged coal that is backside-shelf low-designate but produces much less vitality and more C02 emissions per ton than other fossil fuels. Excavators unearth it a total bunch of ft under floor; uncovered to air, sulphide minerals within the rocks oxidize, releasing acid and heavy metals delight in iron and copper that turn rain and groundwater into an ethereal sludge the EPA says would possibly be “highly poisonous.”

The surreal color is the cease results of acid mine drainage. Characterize: Tom Hegen

Last one year, Germany mined 166.3 million heaps of lignite—more than thrice the amount the US mines—to meet a quarter of vitality needs. Some 34 billion heaps of lignite lie in reserve. Even though Germany is pushing toward a greener future, and closed its closing arduous coal mine in 2018, lignite mines will remain delivery unless 2038. Lignite mining has already swallowed practically about half of a million acres of Germany’s land—including a total bunch of villages, roads, and forests. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg shed light on the devastation this March, when she dedicated her Golden Digicam Award to protesters squatting within the Hambach Forest of North Rhine-Westphalia, which can rapidly be razed to lengthen a practically about 11,000-acre delivery pit mine.

Some half of a million acres in Germany were broken-down for mining lignite. Characterize: Tom Hegen

Hegen’s photos depict the Lusatia mining district in jap Germany, from which roughly a Third of the country’s lignite hails. Queer to trace it, he hired a helicopter pilot to cruise him out it in 2017. He spent about two hours peering down by way of his digicam on the surreal colours and texture under. “It change into fully otherworldly,” he says.

Germany plans to close its lignite mines by 2038. Characterize: Tom Hegen

And that is the reason swish the purpose of his images: Humans derive a knack for making Earth watch much less and no more delight in itself, and an increasing model of delight in something out of a dystopian desolate tract.


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