Selenium Controversy at TVA Fly Ash Spill Site

There have been serious environmental concerns following the catastrophic December 22 <"">Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) fly ash spill that dumped a massive 5.4 million cubic yards of coal sludge into Tennessee’s Emory and Clinch rivers and the 300 acres surrounding its Kingston plant. Now, according to a report, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation bolt dvdrip download

(TDEC) is claiming that selenium and mercury contamination in fish samples taken near the spill are below regulatory action levels.

In an earlier article, the Tennessean discussed the potential for dangerous amounts of selenium being released in area waterways. Also, KnoxNews discussed the first study that looked at the effects of the historic spill on aquatic live in the rivers and found that the fish there contain high selenium levels.

Some experts say the selenium could have been building up for years and was not a result of the December TVA spill; however, test results released this week from samples taken from January through April do indicate that fish near the spill contain higher levels of heavy metals, reported According to the TDEC, test results only indicate existing and pre-existing conditions, said “However, they are not predictors of the future,” the report states. “The implications of the ash spill are profound and it may take months for toxicity or bioaccumulation to be documented,” quoted

What is known is that there are environmental dangers resulting from the TVA spill and from coal facilities, in general, which expose area residents and the environment to some serious and dangerous health and environmental problems, such as radium and arsenic exposure. Also, noted, selenium, which becomes toxic in higher concentrations, bioaccumulates over time in fish.

According to the TDEC, selenium has reached levels of 5.12 parts per million (PPM) around the spill in what described as “dry weight concentrations.” Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed guideline is 7.91 ppm, Wake Forest University biologist Dennis Lemly, whose selenium work drove the EPA figure, has disputed the TDEC’s interpretations and says the level should be lower, at 5.85 ppm, said

In an earlier article, noted that, according to Lemly, selenium levels are nearing “the tipping point,” and if more selenium is released, fish populations could be devastated since selenium builds up in the reproductive system. “Over the course of two to three years, the adults would die off and the population would essentially be eliminated,” said Lemly, quoted Pennsylvania soil scientist Bryce Payne, noted that when high selenium rates are caught, it is too late to stop the danger since selenium is a “slow-release toxic element. Once the horse gets out of the barn, there’s no way to get it back,” reported previously.

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