Saturday, December 27, 2008

Coal In Your Stockings. And your living room…front yard…neighborhood…the whole damn valley…

There's no fucking way this can be anything close to the end of the story:
Environmentalists worry the ash-laden sludge that coated a Tennessee neighborhood when a power plant dike burst could pose a health risk, although initial tests by a public utility company have shown no threat to drinking water.

Crews were expected to work through the holiday weekend to contain the aftermath of Monday's breach at the coal-fired Kingston power plant, run by the nation's largest public utility about 50 miles west of Knoxville.

Officials at the Tennessee Valley Authority have said preliminary tests suggest there is no danger to millions of people who get their drinking water from the 652-mile Tennessee River.

And TVA spokesman Gil Francis said crews were cleaning up the sludge.

"The cleanup is making progress," Francis said Thursday, adding the group was moving from the road to other areas. TVA brought in 30 pieces of equipment and more than 100 workers for the work that will take four to six weeks to complete, he said.

And the air at Ground Zero was safe to breathe.

Sorry, but there's simply no way a spill of 2 million cubic yards of industrial waste isn't doing serious damage to the environment.

Since moving to Western North Carolina, I've become keenly aware of the evil that is the Tennessee Valley Authority—we breathe the shit pouring from its smokestacks all year, and in the summer, visibility mileage here is often measured in single digits.

The TVA is a federally owned corporation, and as such, I expect Obama to kick its fucking ass into shape. Scrubbers on every goddamn stack, and no more mountaintop-removal mining or sludge pits. There's no such thing as "clean coal", but it can be a hell of a lot cleaner than this.

Video at Crooks and Liars.

UPDATE: The spill is much bigger than initially reported—5.4 million cubic yards (over 1 billion gallons; the Exxon Valdez oil spill was about 11 million gallons). Somehow that much sludge spilled from a retention pond the TVA claimed held only 2.6 million.

UPDATE 2: Officials are warning area residents with wells to "boil their drinking water." Are you fucking kidding me? Boiling water is a nice precaution after a water main break or to kill germs from sewage contamination, but I'm pretty sure it does jack to remove heavy metals. The river looks like the goddamn adamantium vat from X-Men.


TXsharon said...

And where the hell is the mainstream media? I've not heard one word about thie on the TeeVee news shows. Where are the investigative reporters?

Mr Furious said...

They're too busy worrying about whether or not the Obamas go to church...and besides, who the hell wants to go cover a story in Appalachia?

Mr Furious said...

If there were ash-covered seals in the Tennessee River, they'd be there.

Deb said...

If there were ash-covered seals in the Tennessee River, they'd be there.

Cynical crown, anybody? ;)

I couldn't agree more, so I'll need a crown, too. If you want MSM coverage of environmental disasters, they'd better involve cute animals or it had better happen in California. Someone in that community is going to have to rise up and demand a solution if anything is going to happen.

DED said...

You're right. Boiling water with heavy metals in it won't get rid of them. If they set up distillation equipment and drank the condensed steam (after it cooled down), that would be safe to drink. It would be a long, tedious process though.

I worked in the metals finishing industry for a couple years. The way we removed metal contaminants from wastewater was by using chelating agents. The chelators would bind with the metals and precipitate out of solution. Separating the "sludge" from the water at that point was much easier. The key thing is to find the right chelating agents to react with one's target metal contaminants.