The following is my personal observation of the recent pollution disaster that happened just around the bend from where I live.
This morning when I woke up I smelled something horrible, kind of like exhaust, raw gasoline, beer and burned poison... so strong I had to shut my windows to keep from gagging. When I tried to enjoy the sunny day outside I got nauseous, lethargic, and seizure prone. I decided to ask some local friends over email whether they could smell something terrible outside too, and I got mail back saying that everyone had "headaches" and it was probably connected to the TN Coal Ash disaster (with link). WTF? I looked it up and there it was... one of the grossest pollution stories I have ever heard since the Exxon Valdez spill.
"The spill at the utility’s Harriman Fossil Plant deluged more than 300 acres of rural Roane County, destroying three homes and damaging 42 other properties. In nearby Kingston, that raised fears of fouled water and air, while 13 families wait to see if their homes can be salvaged, said Carolyn Brewer, finance director for the city of 5,300. The sludge-like spill, a mixture of water and residue from burned coal, escaped from a 40-acre holding pond after a retaining wall burst last week."
What infuriates me besides the fact that the air outside is tainted like we are living inside a can of roach spray, is that "authorities" have already tried to dumb down the implications of such a disaster.
Here is the conflict between a big corporation cover up and reality:
"...in just one year, the plant’s byproducts included 45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems. And the holding pond, at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a T.V.A. plant 40 miles west of Knoxville, contained many decades’ worth of these deposits...
For days, authority officials have maintained that the sludge released in the spill is not toxic..."
(VIA NY Times)
And then there's this...
"The authority has been using backhoes and heavy equipment to clean up the ash and is building weirs, or underwater dams, to try to keep it from traveling downstream. Officials do not have an estimate of the cost of the cleanup or how long it will take, said a spokeswoman, Catherine Mackey...
Mr. Smith also criticized the agency for increasing the flow of the Tennessee River to keep the ash from approaching the drinking water intake for Kingston, a town a half-mile up from the confluence of the Clinch and the Tennessee. “They’re actually moving the stuff further downstream, in order to protect the drinking supply at Kingston,” he said. "
(VIA NY Times)
They are moving kind of slow on water testing too...
"Samples taken at the site of the spill in Harriman, 35 miles southwest of Knoxville, “slightly exceed” the standards for some metals, according to a statement from the Tennessee Valley Authority, owner of the coal power plant where the Dec. 22 accident occurred. Results from well-water and air tests won’t be known until later this week, the utility said....
A test for heavy metals in water, soil or sediment should take two to eight hours, said Peter Schulert, the chief executive of the Environmental Science Corporation, an environmental laboratory near Nashville. “There’s no reason why you couldn’t have the results within a day,” Mr. Schulert said.... "
(And that fact is making people mad, rightfully so!)
“They think that the public is stupid, that they can’t put two and two together,” said Sandy Gupton, a registered nurse who hired an independent firm to test the spring water on her family’s 300-acre farm, now sullied by sludge from the spill. “It took five days for the T.V.A. to respond to us.”
They (whoever this "authority" is) tries to make it sound like it's not such a big deal, if you happen to come in contact with this sludge bi-product then just give your hands a little wash. NO advice on what to do when you are breathing it, since there's no brilliant soapy water solution.
"Authorities are testing air quality in the area and “currently evaluating the potential for health effects,” the agencies said in the TVA’s statement. Anyone who touches soil, sediments or water affected by the spill should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water and wash clothes separately from other items, according to the statement. "
So do we all get government distributed respirators too, so that we might be able to breathe safely without getting sick? Big corporations are big babies (ego centric to a fault) - they can never admit when they have done something wrong, they give heartless apologies and keep counting their dollars while all of us sit here breathing polluted air and people's homes, land and water are destroyed. They worry over being sued when they should be sued for any damage they may try to weasel their way out of covering. But really, how can you compensate fully for someone's sludged home and health?