Friday, December 26, 2008

Clean Coal Snow Job

Tennessee Valley Coal Ash Spill Buries 400 Acres, Damages Homes
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, December 23, 2008 (ENS) - A retaining wall at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston coal-fired power plant collapsed early Monday morning, causing 2.6 million cubic yards of fly ash to be spilled across hundreds of acres.

The Kingston Steam Plant in Harriman, about 50 miles west of Knoxville, at the confluence of the Emory and Clinch Rivers is owned and operated by the nation's largest public utility.

The wet gray sludge buried about 400 acres six feet deep. One house was torn from its foundations, and 11 other homes were damaged and evacuated. No injuries or fatalities have been reported.

TVA estimates that the cleanup could take weeks to complete and says long-term plans are being developed. Environmentalists warn that fly ash contains toxins - mercury, arsenic, and lead among others - that could seep into the ground and flow downriver.
The wet fly ash engulfed this house, one of 12 damaged in the spill. (Photo courtesy Tennessee Valley Authority)

TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore said today, "Protecting the public, our employees, and the environment is TVA's primary concern as we supply electric power for the people of Tennessee Valley region."

"We deeply regret that a retention wall for ash containment at our Kingston Fossil Plant failed, resulting in an ash slide and damage to nearby homes," said Kilgore. "We are grateful no injuries have been reported, and we will take all appropriate actions to assist those affected by this situation."

TVA provided hotel rooms, meals, transportation and other immediate needs for affected residents who were not able to occupy their homes Monday night. Additional assistance is being provided by TVA as needed by affected residents. Electricity, gas and water have been restored to all homes in the area that are habitable, the TVA said.

The Swan Pond Road past the Kingston plant remains closed except for residents who live in the area whose homes are habitable. There is no estimated timeline for when the road will be reopened.

TVA Police are assisting local law enforcement with maintaining security for the homes in the affected area.

Heavy equipment including bulldozers, dump trucks, and backhoes have been brought to the site and some clearing of debris has started.

Kingston is one of TVA's larger fossil plants. It generates 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to supply the needs of about 670,000 homes in the Tennessee Valley. An adequate supply of coal is available and all nine units at Kingston continue to operate.

"This holiday disaster shows that there really isn't such a thing as a clean coal plant," said Chandra Taylor, staff attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.

"From mountaintop removal mining to smokestacks spewing soot and smog to ash ponds full of toxins, coal power is dirty - plain and simple. Nobody wants to find coal in their Christmas stocking, let alone coming through their home and polluting their river,"
she said.

TVA says sampling of water downstream of the plant will continue to assess the possible effects on water quality. TVA continues to manage river flows on the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers to minimize downstream movement of the ash. There are no expected impacts to any other TVA facilities downstream.

Staff at TVA's other 10 coal-fired power plants have made visual inspections of the ash retention dikes to note any changes in conditions. The ash containment areas at all TVA's plants undergo a formal inspection annually and other inspections on a quarterly and daily basis, said the government company.

"The United States Environmental Protection Agency should immediately establish national safeguards for the disposal of coal wastes and enforceable regulations," said Taylor. "At a minimum, these safeguards should include siting restrictions, structural requirements and long-term financial assurance to clean up any resulting pollution."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.


Nan said...

Whenever the coal industry starts talking about being clean or green, I start thinking Buffalo Creek disaster (West Virginia, 1972, multiple fatalities). Most of Appalachian coal country is one thin retaining wall or poorly built dam away from a repeat. It's sheer dumb luck no one wound up dead from this most recent mess.

Utah Savage said...

Well we have months to go before it's cleaned up so there might be fatalities before it's over.

God am I lazy or what? I just cruise through the news stories that get automatically loaded on my mail overnight and pick my favorite horror story for the first post of the day. Pretty cheesy, but at least it's news we need to pay attention to. I hope this puts a stop to the nonsense about "clean coal."

okjimm said...

OK. off topic.
Happy Holidays. I have been snowed, sleeted.... ana I gotza about ten minutes to type.

Hoping Utah Decemeber does not suck ass as much as Wisconsin's!

:) :)

Utah Savage said...

I'm sure it sucks just as much if not more. You don't have all the damned Mormons as well as snow to contend with. I've had to out myself as gay just to shock the old Mormons in my group "therapy" for a moment of entertainment and rebellion. I doubt they'll ask me back or even let me come back if I beg. When hell freezes over I'm thinking. It will be a single skilled therapist from now on--unless the therapists decide to gang shrink me. I'm horrible.

SaoirseDaily2 said...

I see no use in coal. There is no clean coal. Bush & Co has now made it easier for them to rape the land and less protect their workers. I never understood the people of KY after living there as much as I never understood the Mormons and chapter one of their book when I lived in Utah.

We dug my car out of 6 feet of snow and brought her home today before the next round of storms come through.

I still have 2 more days off and no reason to get out in that icy stuff.

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

We saw those pro coal signs all over w. virginia on our way to fla and when we visited my nephew's job site where he's an apprentice electrician doing solar panels his co-workers had several no clean coal messages to share. sometimes it's a matter of perspective I guess...i wonder of O man will put back into place any of the safety regs Bush's pals threw out for coal miners ?

Utah Savage said...

I hope O man will go very very green. I think that's the plan to save the economy and the planet. So all I can do is point out the obvious and hope like hell.

Demeur said...

As this is up my alley let me throw the following at you:

1. Coal ash is not classified under EPA as a hazardous material. Don't ask me why. Therefore there is no reporting requirements. A situation that needs to change.
2. Our wonderful Shrub just lowered the standards for drinking water hence increasing the allowable amounts of aresnic and other toxic chemicals. That was a parting shot by Shrub before leaving office.
3. The TVA is reporting that the drinking water having been tested is safe. I call BS on that. With the amount of water involved it's impossible to tell if the water is safe by the shear volume involved and the fact that heavy metals sink to the bottom.
4. The "clean up" if it were done to proper Haz Mat standards would take over a year.

I could go on but that might just get boring.

Utah Savage said...

Demeur, not boring at all, please do go on. The more I know the more hell I can raise, and I'm sure you've pegged me for the hell raiser I am.