Tennessee “coal spill” poses cancer risk 900 times higher than “acceptable”

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coalspillThankfully the press has finally gotten a whiff of the coal ash spill that recently devastated Kingston, Tennessee, 40 miles east of Knoxville. Major news outlets are now covering the story, reporting that the amount toxic sludge is now estimated to be over one billion gallons.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which runs the coal plant has performed preliminary testing of the nearby water supply and so far tests have come back negative.

In August 2007 the EPA released a draft study detailing the human and ecological risks from coal combustion wastes.

As reported by Earthjustice at the time…

By examining 181 “coal combustion waste,” or coal ash disposal sites throughout the country, the report estimates risks to health and the environment from coal ash disposal. The report found that unlined coal ash waste ponds pose a cancer risk 900 times above what is defined as ‘acceptable.’ The report also finds that coal ash disposal sites release toxic chemicals and metals such as arsenic, lead, boron, selenium, cadmium, thallium, and other pollutants at levels that pose risks to human health and the environment.


“For decades, coal ash has been disposed in unlined landfills and waste ponds, contaminating the water throughout the U.S.,” said Jeff Stant of Clean Air Task Force. “EPA promised in 2000 to require safeguards for coal ash disposal, yet this long-awaited action demonstrates that they are completely out of touch with what’s happening around these sites. Communities near coal plants deserve far better.”

Considering who has been in charge of Washington for the past 8 years, it’s not surprising that the federal government does not mandate any of the safeguards recommended in the report to reduce the risk and danger of coal ash spills.

And nor do I mandate drinking the water in Kingston, Tennessee either. Just ask the dead fish.

Post by ILO on 12/30/08 at 5:35 pm