CO2, CO, and Hg emissions from the Truman Shepherd and Ruth Mullins coal fires, eastern Kentucky, USA

Jennifer M.K. O'Keefe, Kevin R. Henke, James C. Hower, Mark A. Engle, Glenn B. Stracher, J. D. Stucker, Jordan W. Drew, Wayne D. Staggs, Tiffany M. Murray, Maxwell L. Hammond, Kenneth D. Adkins, Bailey J. Mullins, Edward W. Lemley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and mercury (Hg) emissions were quantified for two eastern Kentucky coal-seam fires, the Truman Shepherd fire in Floyd County and the Ruth Mullins fire in Perry County. This study is one of the first to estimate gas emissions fromcoal fires using fieldmeasurements at gas vents. The Truman Shepherd fire emissions are nearly 1400 t CO2/yr and 16 kg Hg/yr resulting froma coal combustion rate of 450-550 t/yr. The sum of CO2 emissions fromseven vents at the Ruth Mullins fire is 726±72 t/yr, suggesting that the fire is consuming about 250-280 t coal/yr. Total RuthMullins fire CO and Hg emissions are estimated at 21±1.8 t/yr and >840±170 g/yr, respectively. The CO2 emissions are environmentally significant, but low compared to coal-fired power plants; for example, 3.9×106 t CO2/yr for a 514-MW boiler in Kentucky. Using simple calculations, CO2 and Hg emissions fromcoal-fires in the U.S. are estimated at 1.4×107-2.9×108 t/yr and 0.58-11.5 t/yr, respectively. This initial work indicates that coal fires may be an important source of CO2, CO, Hg and other atmospheric constituents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1628-1633
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2010


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Emissions
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Mercury
  • Pitot tube
  • Spontaneous combustion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'CO2, CO, and Hg emissions from the Truman Shepherd and Ruth Mullins coal fires, eastern Kentucky, USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this