An Environmental 9/11 in Tennessee

by: Matt Stoller

Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 18:21

This is awful.

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.

Matt Stoller :: An Environmental 9/11 in Tennessee

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Drill Baby Drill! (0.00 / 0)
damn liburals that's why we need clean coal. coal you drink.

as much as I despise Chuck Schumer and Charles Rangel and the Bloomberg democrat voters of my state, I thank the baby flying spaghetti monster every damn night that I don't live in state dominated by hard right exploitations and their lowest common denominator flock.

~* the * Will * to go on *~

I'm not even kidding (4.00 / 2)
I was drinking a big glass of water when I first saw this post.  And I live in Huntsville.  The good news never stops.

[ Parent ]
Clean coal! (4.00 / 1)
Even nonexistent, 100% CO2 capture magic pony technology would be irrelevant to a spill such as this one.

But remember, we can't have windmills, because they make a noise and kill the occasional bird.

no, see (4.00 / 3)
If it was clean coal, then fields of flowers would spring up spontaneously when the detritus leaked out.

Of course, the waste product of clean coal is honey and maple syrup, so there really would be no need to store it in giant lakes.


[ Parent ]
It's OK. (4.00 / 2)
   The plant is still operating.  That's all that matters!  I love how the TVA directors tries to blame the weather for this.  The area has gotten a whopping 5 inches of rain, and it's been cold.  It couldn't be that we haven't repaired anything in this country since 1965.
   Today in Bethesda, MD, a 66'' water main broke, nearly drowning a dozen people in their cars on the way to work.  People within a dozen miles were left without water, because the emergency shut-off valve was underwater.  The pipe hadn't been replaced since the 1960s.  We now have the infrastructure and environmental standards of a post-Soviet satellite state.

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy

Legacy (4.00 / 1)
This is the true legacy of the Bush administration.  

FAIL (4.00 / 1)
looking at this in the perspective of failed policies (like the elimination of the stream buffer zone) and failed engineering (a la New Orleans levees), these unnatural disasters are the ultimate combination of terrible policy and shoddy, careless engineering.

epic fail. it's just a good thing that nobody got hurt this time around. we may not be so lucky the next time...

I keep MSNBC on in the background when I work (4.00 / 2)
and I haven't seen anything about this.  The media is indifferent or controlled on this story.

John McCain won't insure children

I read the news this morning oh boy (4.00 / 1)
checking on Google news .. the major national newspapers .. not a word. Big story about a woman who was trapped in her car for a few minutes when a water main broke, meanwhile a toxic waste spill bigger than the Exxon Valdez destroyed houses, and contaminated a whole drinking water shed.

And the EPA puts a hopeful Christmas spin on the mess, they say "Hopefully, it won't be as bad as creating a Superfund site, but it depends on what is found."

[ Parent ]
exactly (0.00 / 0)
I'm in GA and my paper doesn't seem to have a thing about this. If this doesn't directly affect our water supply, it will have some effect because we are constantly having water disputes with neighbors and I'd think that this would only exacerbate the problem down the line if their water is poisoned.

[ Parent ]
Horrible (0.00 / 0)
Coal kills, it's costly, it's poisoning our water and our planet.

"Clean" Coal simply is not viable and will not be viable for more then a decade if billions of dollars are poured into it, that's not worth the investment.

It's time for the construction of new coal plants to end and for a plan to be put in place to phase out coal in our country and help other countries do the same.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

Would anyone familiar with this subject (0.00 / 0)
post names of books & articles worth reading.  Thanks in advance.  

coal & MTR books (0.00 / 0)
"Lost Mountain" by Erik Reece
"Missing Mountains: We Went to the Mountaintop but it wasn't there" by multiple Kentucky authors
"Strange As This Weather Has Been" by Ann Pancake is the only work of fiction about MTR

if you can find them, Wendell Berry and Erik Reece both have a bevy of articles and essays that discuss MTR and the numerous disasters related to the mining industry. start with those...

[ Parent ]
The progressive blogs should make a big stink about it (0.00 / 0)
I hope Gore says something.  This isn't being covered in the major media, and  the people in those regions are actually under the illusion that republican government does something for them.

My blog  

Aren't we happy that we protested those nuclear plants? (0.00 / 0)
It really makes me sick that that there are new coal plants being built, and that the DOE projects an ever-increasing megawattage of power being produced by coal until 2050. Yes, that's 2050 - so brace for more of this in the next 40+ years!

This is what happens when you support a system of power generation that can't contain its own waste. This is what happens when we support the status quo (Coal) "until the ideal technology becomes economical." We liberals did this. Shame on us.

We had a clean, economical alternative all along: Nuclear. We wussed out. This is on our hands.


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