According to local news reports millions of yards of ashy toxic sludge broke through a dike at TVA's Kingston coal-fired plant Monday, covering hundreds of acres, knocking one home off its foundation. Coal ash can carry toxic substances that include mercury, arsenic and lead, according to a federal study.
Greenpeace is calling today for there to be a criminal investigation into the matter. "Every facility like this is supposed to have a spill contingency plan to prevent this kind of disaster," said Rick Hind, Greenpeace Legislative Director.
This is not an ordinary environmental disaster; 500 million gallons of toxic coal ash spilling into the drinking water of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama is going to kill a lot of people. Eastern Kentucky saw a similar spill in 2000 due to negligence from coal companies, and the Bush administration covered it up.
The region still hasn't recovered, with much of the waters and lakes unable to support fish or wildlife. And it may never recover. Just watch the video above, it's rather breathtaking. 500 million gallons of mercury, arsenic, and coal dust is now a permanent part of Tennessee's ecosystem, and probably part of the DNA of the people that live there and drink the water.