TVA Fly Ash Spill Released 2.6 Million Lbs Of Heavy Metals

The catastrophic <"">fly ash spill that took place last December in Tennessee let loose an unimaginable 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic coal sludge into the Emory and Clinch rivers and the 300 acres surrounding the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Kingston plant. According to a new article out by KnoxNews, the spill dumped more heavy metals into the Emory River than all of the power plants in 2007, combined, citing the Environmental Integrity Project.

We have long been referring to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report that states that some “potentially toxic pollutants,” such as mercury and arsenic, which are found in coal ash, could present serious problems. Earlier this year, we wrote about how information pointing to “significantly higher cancer risks” for those living near coal-fired power plant ash dumps was allegedly covered up by the recent Bush Administration, citing a report by Environmental Integrity. That report stated that the pollutants can converge in considerable quantities, which are released into waterways or groundwater, said the Tennessean, previously.

Numerous studies have concluded that coal dumps leach dangerous toxins into the environment that can cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health outcomes in water and wildlife populations, including frightening guarantees of developing cancer from drinking contaminated water and suffering damage to the liver, kidney, lungs and other organs from toxic metal exposure, such as cadmium, cobalt, lead, and other pollutants far above levels that are considered safe,” said Environmental Integrity, previously.

The group also noted that the danger to wildlife and ecosystems is “off the charts, with one contaminant—boron—expected to leach into the environment at levels two thousand times the thresholds generally considered to be safe.” The report also discussed cases in which the toxin has killed aquatic wildlife, contaminated wells, and adversely affected wildlife, reported the Tennessean, with the causes linked to coal ash wastewater. The waste has been both accidentally and “routinely” released as a result of coal-fired plant daily operations, the Tennessean previously noted.

Now, the Environmental Integrity Project report states the spill released about four and a-half times more lead and two and a-half times more arsenic than was released by the entire power industry the year prior to the spill, said KnoxNews. Environmental Integrity based its findings on industry-supplied data to the EPA, said KnoxNews.

Citing the report, KnoxNews explained that the historic spill released some 2.66 million pounds of 10 heavy metals commonly found in coal ash while the entire industry releases 2.04 million pounds nationwide in 2007.

Eric Shaeffer, Project Director at Environmental Integrity described the massive TVA fly ash spill as “an ecological disaster,” yesterday, quoted KnoxNews and urged the federal government to act on the regulation of these coal ash impoundments and to also put into effect a ban on wet storage facilities, like the one at the center of the TVA Kingston Fossil Plan tragedy. “We think the data makes a very strong case for the EPA to take action on coal ash ponds,” Shaeffer said, reported KnoxNews.

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