Saturday, February 07, 2009

TVA's Coal Ash In Food, Water and The Air

TVA spokesman Gil Francis says he does not think the massive mounds of toxic coal ash spilled into Roane County back in December which are now swirling into the air really exists - he told WATE-TV reporters is was probably just some fog.

The WATE report has video of plumes of ash rising 30 or 40 feet into the air.

Just the sludge alone is highly toxic according to researchers from Duke - though ORNL officials say it is not. Would you want to live in the midst of this disaster? Are folks flocking to the area to snap up real estate on the cheap?

More studies show that toxic materials far exceed what is deemed safe by federal standards. Items of concern include:

* Samples from six locations near or downstream from the ash spill showed levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and selenium exceeding Water Quality Criteria established by the Clean Water Act to protect aquatic life and human activity in rivers from dangerous pollution. Only one upriver sample showed high levels of any of these metals; it exceeded the lower, chronic criteria for lead.

* Samples from seven locations downstream of the spill showed levels of one or more heavy metals including antimony, arsenic, beryllium and lead exceeding Primary Drinking Water Standards, with arsenic more than double and copper five times acute toxicity levels. None of the three samples taken upstream exceeded the criteria.

* TVA denied the groups access to wells in the impacted area, so they tested wells east of the site. None of the samples had levels exceeding Primary Drinking Water Standards for heavy metals, but all of the wells had one or more pollutants known to leach from ash including aluminum, iron and manganese at levels exceeding Secondary Drinking Water Standards. The tests also turned up four wells with levels of manganese or sodium -- contaminants found in coal ash -- exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency's health-based advisories.

* The tests also found widely fluctuating arsenic levels in the Emory and Clinch rivers -- some as many as 37 times the Primary Drinking Water Standard. The groups say this could threaten the use of the rivers for drinking water and shows the need for more testing.

Add to this info that more than likely, the stuff you grow to eat is contaminated as well - especially in the South.

Since the federal government does not classify coal ash as hazardous waste, it doesn't oversee the material's use in agriculture. Jeffrey Stant of the Environmental Integrity Project's Coal Combustion Waste Initiative told EHN that some states have regulations but often do not require monitoring.

He and other environmental health advocates have long called for federal oversight of coal waste. Knowing that this toxic stuff could end up in the vegetables we're eating only adds to the regulatory urgency."

Remember the Senate hearings on this disaster back in January? Remember the promises of more investigation to come? I suppose that was the real fog.

As for TVA -- they do not want to talk about how deadly and toxic that spill really was -- "we just want to clean it up" says TVA.

And in today's Knoxville News Sentinel, one resident continues to see problems with little sign of real progress:

[Resident Larry] Richards said he's worried about TVA's plan to dredge the Emory and dump sludge next to the channel where ash previously was moved from the steam plant to the holding pond. "They're taking bad material from one side of the river and putting it on the other side of the river," he said. "They're creating the same problem all over again."

1 comment:

  1. Maybe Gil Francis would like to buy a lovely vacation home overlooking the Emory River?

    "As for TVA -- they do not want to talk about how deadly and toxic that spill really was -- "we just want to clean it up" says TVA."

    We've heard a lot of that in the past 8 years: "Now is not the time to play the blame game," etc. The establishment is afraid of information ... but it takes a lot of balls to say "we don't want to talk about how deadly this stuff is" with a straight face, when people are still breathing, drinking and eating it.