TENNESSEE: Reflections on the one year anniversary of the Fly Ash Disaster
|TVA Coal Fly Ash Disaster 1 Year Anniversary and Videos
by Matt Landon, United Mountain Defense
| 20 Dec 2009
On December 22, 2008 the largest coal fly ash disaster in the world
occurred in Roane County, Tennessee along the banks of the Emory River
at the Kingston Electric Coal Plant which is owned and operated by the
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
Coal fly ash is a toxic by- product produced by burning coal to make
electricity. Coal fly ash is currently unregulated in the United
States. TVA has been very reluctant to take responsibility for the
disaster that they created and took active steps to keep the news of
the disaster out of the media.
As part of the United States federal government, TVA has been
investigated by its own Office of Inspector General which has issued
numerous reports detailing how badly TVA officials and employees
responded to this disaster. The worst and most telling reports are yet
to come. TVA had more than 40 years of internal reports showing the
structural weakness of the failed coal fly ash storage pond and they
chose to ignore the problems and continue to stack the coal fly ash to
a height of more than 60 feet using the wet storage method.
It has been one year since the disaster. By viewing the following
videos you will see that the situation has gotten worse as the trail of
coal fly ash becomes more dispersed. So far the coal fly ash has
floated down the Emory River, Clinch River and Tennessee River all the
way to Alabama. As the ash continues its downstream march it will
eventually reach the Ohio River, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of
Mexico. The main points of concern with water quality right now are the
elevated levels of arsenic, selenium and other heavy metals which have
leached out of the coal fly ash and into the drinking water of millions
of people downstream, not to mention all of the animals which live in
the water or eat the fish. Kingston, TN is the nearest town whose water
intakes are a mere 6 miles downstream. Chattanooga, TN is the next
largest city downstream of the disaster.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has permitted
the spilled coal fly ash to be shipped via railroad to Arrowhead
Landfill in Uniontown, Perry County, Alabama. It has been documented
that this landfill is currently pumping the landfill leachate (landfill
juice) into the ditches surrounding the landfill and right next to the
homes of local residents. These residents have been told that the coal
fly ash is safe.
Many residents are concerned about their health. An independent air
monitoring program started by Roane County residents, United Mountain
Defense and the Global Community Monitor has shown that on a least one
dry day in October 2009 that there existed elevated levels of arsenic
and cadmium in the air surrounding the disaster site. On Feb 3, 2009 a
massive dust storm more than 100 feet tall and half a mile wide was
documented as it blew off the coal ash disaster site. Many residents
have reported respiratory distress up to a 10 mile radius around the
disaster site with symptoms that include burning eyes, nosebleeds,
sinus infections, ear infections, scratchy throats, rashes, skin
sensitivity to sun, nausea, vomiting, headaches, migraines, asthma and
many other ailments. Many of these residents had never been sick on
such a regular basis before the disaster and now have mounting health
bills which they cannot pay. Yet TVA is continuously allowed to state
that there is no danger from the coal fly ash and none of the workers
involved in the cleanup and recovery efforts are made to wear
This disaster occurred because of negligence. This disaster is not an
isolated incident and as all of the coal fly ash storage sites around
the world continue to age many more people will be at risk of having to
deal with such a disaster in their neighborhoods. If you live near a
coal burning electric power plant you may also live near a coal ash
dump. Coal fly ash is NOT safe! This is a disaster that the world needs
to learn about and we intend to help spread the word about it, will you
help us spread the word?
For more info check out the following websites
Thank you for your time, matt landon Appalachian Organizer for United Mountain Defense
umdvolunteerhouse (at) yahoo.com
Here is a video that a Roane County family produced about living next
to the TVA Coal Ash Disaster. TVA refuses to evacuate them.
Here is a video made by a resident of Roane County, Delano Williams who lives about 1 mile from the TVA Coal Ash Disaster.
This dust storm was documented on Feb 3, 2009, the day that Matt Landon
got back from the training for the citizen's air monitoring program.
Perry County, Alabama Uniontown Citizens speak out about Arrowhead
Landfill where TVA coal fly ash is being shipped and dumped by rail. It
has been discovered that the landfill is also dumping the leachate
(landfill juice) into the ditches surrounding the landfill and right
next to the homes in this video.
Marion, AL coal ash landfill leachate issue. Arrowhead Landfill is
dumping tanker truckload after tanker truckload of landfill juice into
a waste water treatment pond which canít handle the increased load
Proposed dump for TVA coal fly ash on a coal mine valley fill in Cumberland County, Tennessee
Data from the citizenís air monitoring program started by Roane County
residents, United Mountain Defense and the Global Community Monitor
http://www.datafilehost.com/download-f4a89ea7.html 2nd round Raw data
http://www.datafilehost.com/download-f666a8d2.html 2nd round Air Data Page 1
http://www.datafilehost.com/download-08c82142.html 2nd round Air Data Spreadsheet
http://www.datafilehost.com/download-7c043a64.html Expert interpretation of air data
The following are a few words from our air analyst about what these latest air samples mean.
Attached is my interpretation of metal levels in the two air samples
collected near the TVA coal ash spill on October 19th and 20th. I added
the interpretation to the spreadsheet containing the interpretation of
metal levels in the two previously collected air samples (15 July 2009
and 1 October 2009). Rows 4 and 5 contain the new data.
Of note is a Ďhotí sample (the one collected on 20 October 2009) with a
cadmium level that exceeds the California Office of Environmental
Health Hazard Assessmentís Chronic Reference Level for cadmium. This
sample also has an arsenic level that is above the World Health
Organizationís guideline value of 0.66 nanograms per cubic meter to
prevent a one per one million increased risk of cancer as a result of
If you average the concentrations in all four samples (assigning a Ď0í
value to non-detects), then the average cadmium level is below (60% of)
the California OHEAAís Chronic REL for cadmium, but the average arsenic
level is above the WHO guideline value of 0.66 nanograms per cubic
meter to prevent a one per one million increased risk of cancer as a
result of lifetime exposure.
I urge caution in how you publicize these results for two reasons. 1)
The cadmium levels in the air samples are less than 3 times their
uncertainty levels; 2) the arsenic levels in the air samples are less
than 2 times their uncertainty levels.