[from the NYT]: Though the E.P.A., the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the authority have spoken daily about their efforts to monitor air, soil and water quality, complete results have been released for only two samples, both taken from a drinking water intake site that is upstream of the spill. The water there met drinking standards.
Heckuva job. Those samples from UPSTREAM should make good "before spill" comparisons to the water supply actually affected by 2.2 million pounds of toxic materials.
Independent testing done by environmental groups and a university are looking a little more bleak:
According to the tests, arsenic levels from the Kingston power plant intake canal tested at close to 300 times the allowable amounts in drinking water, while a sample from two miles downstream still revealed arsenic at approximately 30 times the allowed limits. Lead was present at between twice to 21 times the legal drinking water limits, and thallium levels tested at three to four times the allowable amounts.
Granted, that's straight from the river and untreated, but how many people in rural Tennessee get their water from wells? They're fucked. And for everyone else, I'm not sure even a municipal water treatment facility can cope with contamination at those levels.
And of course acres of this shit is still laying around leaching into the soil, washing into the rivers with every rainfall, and soon will begin to dry up and blow around in the air.
Can we stop hearing about "clean coal" now please? At least the waste from a nuclear plant fits in a barrel and is regulated.
UPDATE: Per the photographer's request, I've removed the pictures. They are incredible pictures—Antrim Caskey has captured some hauntingly beautiful images of the utter destruction wreaked on this area. There is a slideshow at the end of this article.