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Report says pandemic will threaten coal, power supplies

A new report from the University of Minnesota warns that an influenza pandemic could disrupt the coal industry, thereby endangering the nation's significantly coal-dependent electric power system and everything that depends on it. "Despite regional differences in coal usage, a pandemic is likely to break links in the coal supply chain, thus disrupting electrical generation. This has the potential to severely endanger the bulk electrical power system in most of the United States." Current federal preparedness plans do not address the possibility of power supply problems resulting from reduced coal shipments during a pandemic. A key planning gap is that federal plans put coal industry workers among those last in line for pandemic vaccines and antiviral drugs.

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