Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Coal plant spill in Tennessee -- a major environmental disaster

Democracy Now: Greenpeace is calling for a criminal investigation into a major environmental disaster at a coal plant outside Knoxville, Tennessee. Early Monday morning, a forty-acre pond containing toxic coal ash collapsed. 2.6 million cubic yards of coal ash spilled out of the retention pond, burying homes and roads. Over 400 acres of land are now under as much as six feet of sludge. Environmentalists say the spill is more than thirty times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

The sludge has flowed into the Emory River, a tributary of the Tennessee River, which provides drinking water to millions of people downstream in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

Environmentalists say the disaster could take months, if not years, to clean up. The Environmental Protection Agency staff member has arrived at the scene to test the ash for toxic metals and mercury, a neurotoxin that concentrates in coal ash. Greenpeace warned that coal ash typically contains high concentrations of toxic chemicals like mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals. The coal plant and retention pond are both operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority….

Little Emory River in Tennessee, before the spill (and perhaps not even near the spill -- I can't tell), shot by ChristopherM, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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