I’m going to play pundit for a moment and talk about the TVA Sludge Spill.
Citizen journalists have kept this story from going away and I’m very impressed. One of the reasons I started blogging three years ago was Hurricane Katrina. I don’t know why it was so significant to me, but it was. I had seen over time Mainstream Media drop the ball (or at least I thought so) time and time again.
White House press briefings where no questions of value were asked, astronauts in diapers, nonstop coverage of the death of Anna Nicole Smith used to dominate the news just a couple of years ago.
And it’s changed. It’s not perfect but it has evolved somehow and I think a lot of it has to do with the voices of citizen journalists. Folks like Cathy.
If the area is safe, why aren’t people allowed to take photographs? Why are they refusing to allow scientific experts to sample and test the water? If the area is too dangerous for anyone except HazMat cleanup crews, why isn’t the mess being cleaned up with any kind of expediency? What damage can an ecoterrorist do to a toxic waste spill? Are they afraid someone might, I don’t know, clean it up?
Or this from S-Town Mike on TVA (Mike has been busting the joint apart):
It sounds more like a shadow state, and I keep seeing these videos recorded over the past weekend of Kingston law enforcement telling activists that they cannot go on the Emory or Clinch Rivers because TVA owns them. That seems like an odd arrangement in a republican democracy. Does the U.S. Coast Guard patrolling those rivers serve at the pleasure of the TVA CEO?
Currently “officials” are saying the municipal water supply is safe. If it were me, I wouldn’t be using it for anything other than flushing the toilet.
TVA must be held accountable. And there are people out there holding their feet to the fire.
I’m encouraged that this isn’t been swept under the rug. Voices are being heard but from the pictures I’ve seen at Harriman, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there is a mess. TVA says they are going to clean it up. They shouldn’t even have to assure that, they should just do it.
Words are nice but actions are so much better.
I will end this Teal Deer post with this from Popular Mechanics on how toxic this sludge is in a worst case scenario:
Coal fly ash is nasty stuff. According an Environmental Protection Agency report, coal plants produce 160 pounds of fly ash for ever ton of coal that they burn. This ash contains traces of heavy metals like arsenic and uranium, and other toxic chemicals, like mercury. The mean mercury level, according to the EPA is 0.33 parts per million, more than the other remnants of coal burning such as bottom ash or boiler slag. At 0.33 parts per million, a billion-gallon ash spill would contain 330 gallons of mercury. However, because the plants mix the ash with water and make it into a sludgy paste before sending it to storage ponds, that number would be smaller.
Mercury exposure is especially dangerous for developing babies, who are susceptible to neurological damage if their mothers have a buildup of mercury in their bloodstream, most often caused by eating seafood with elevated mercury levels. Though these small amounts of mercury exposure are less dangerous for adults, continued exposure to mercury can lead to health problems such as chronic tremors, and a variety of mood disorders. Besides the mercury, however, trace amounts of arsenic, uranium, nickel, cadmium and toxic chemicals makes this a nasty substance to get in the waterways—one that is difficult to test for and remove.