My Favorite Nuclear Plant

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We’ve been doing a little work near Al Gore’s hometown of Carthage, Tennessee and very close to TVA’s monument to folly, the Hartsville Nuclear Plant. That would be the one which after an untold amount of money, maybe a couple of billion, was spent in 7 years of construction on another one of those infamous GE boiling water reactors only to be shut down when TVA decided they didn’t need the capacity.

It’s a beautiful area with rolling hills, the Cumberland river and great farmland which was only until a few years a major tobacco growing area. Now the unused cooling tower stands as a surreal idol to corporate and government insanity, visible for miles especially when standing in an elevated location.

All I can say is … whew, that was close.  Many of us were none too pleased with the thought of a nuke plant in our area. About 50 miles upriver from Nashville’s drinking water, had it gone on line who knows what the outcome would have been. At the least, spent fuel rods would have been accumulating waiting for someone to figure out what to do with them and TVA’s  power of eminent domain would have had giant transmission lines spreading out in all directions through the farmland.  The worst case scenario would be difficult to envision but we all know now what it could be.

Speculation of using the site as an industrial park and even as a private for profit prison never materialized so TVA is still spending a ton of money maintaining the complex which of course becomes part of our monthly electric bill.

Interesting stories about the site have become part of the local lore. Some have come up with it as a HAARP outpost. More about that here and here. I actually talked Sunday to an old friend who works for the same Hartsville radio station referred to in these articles and all he could say was the stories appear to have come from one source, his former boss at the station. It also seems that the alleged eyewitness accounts/recordings of strange goings on there have disappeared from the web so there’s no confirmation. Still, you never know. The government possibly could be reluctant to let this expensive site go to waste.

As we were traveling alongside the Cumberland river yesterday, the conversation turned to how strong the currents are and that a swim across the river could well end up a death by drowning. It reminded me of what TVA has been reluctant to pursue … run-of-river electric generation.  Small scale with some environmental impact but nothing compared to coal fired, large dams and nuclear power. With hundreds of miles of river currents not being utilized, why is this not being considered as an alternative?

Anyway, despite the eyesore that the giant cooling tower is upon the countryside, the Hartsville nuclear plant is still my favorite. It’s the one that never came on-line.


TVA works for the war machine

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Can TVA be trusted to maintain safety with radioactive nuclear bomb making gas when they can’t even contain coal ash?

No matter where we turn, we can’t escape the militarism that is America’s biggest business.
Even paying that electric bill contributes.
The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in East Tennessee produces tritium for the U.S. nuclear arms program.

TVA’s role in nuclear defense program to grow

Plant near Chattanooga to make gas for warheads

By Anne Paine • The Tennessean • August 24, 2009

The United States maintains a hardline policy opposing countries’ use of civilian nuclear reactors to produce material for weapons, including Iran and North Korea.

But that is what the U.S. Department of Energy has been doing at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar reactor in East Tennessee since 2003, and now the department has signaled its intention to start additional production of tritium at TVA’s Sequoyah plant, near Chattanooga.

Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, is needed to boost the explosive power of nuclear warheads. The DOE’s 2010 budget proposal includes plans to make tritium at the two Sequoyah reactors, and TVA spokesman Terry Johnson confirmed that the electricity-generating plant is being prepared for the production of the weapons material.

“It’s part of national defense needs, and TVA is participating in that,” Johnson said. “We feel it’s a saving overall for the nation as a whole.” He said he doesn’t expect production to start before at least 2012.

Critics say, in addition to posing environmental and safety concerns, the move is undermining U.S. policy and the international nuclear nonproliferation treaty that it is a party to.

“The expansion of and continued use of these facilities contradicts our message elsewhere around the world that civilian-power-generating reactors should not be used for military purposes,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, which was established in 1971 to monitor and encourage arms control.

“This has been a core principle of the United States and our allies for more than four decades.”

Jennifer Wagner, a spokeswoman for DOE’s National Nuclear Safety Administration, said, “Our justification is obviously that our core mission is to maintain the safety and reliability of our stockpile so we have an effective deterrent.”

She referred to a speech by President Barack Obama in Prague earlier this year in which he said the goal was to reduce the overall number of nuclear weapons but to maintain an arsenal sufficient to discourage other countries from nuclear arms use.

Tritium production at Watts Bar means higher radiation doses for those at the nuclear plant and within a 50-mile radius, but it’s an insignificant amount, according to an Environmental Impact Statement on the project that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved in 2000.

Since production began at Watts Bar, tritium has been found in groundwater on the site, and higher levels than expected have shown up in the cooling water.“It hasn’t gone above regulated limits,” Johnson said. “The tritium that does not stay in the rods is still within the limits the plant is licensed for.”
{more – The Tennessean}

"Terrorist" Threat to Keep Toxic Coal Ash Sites Secret?

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You would think that there is a ‘domestic terrorist’ threat behind every rock by the talk of some government ‘officials.’
This Tennessee disaster may have given ‘terrorists’ ideas.

WASHINGTONThe Tennessean -Dozens of communities nationwide are at risk from a coal ash spill like the one that blanketed a Tennessee neighborhood last year, but the Obama administration has decided not to tell the public about it because of the danger of a terrorist attack.

The Environmental Protection Agency has classified 44 coal ash storage ponds in 26 communities as potential hazards.

The EPA’s attempt to catalog coal ash sites around the country began after the December spill at a coal-fired utility plant near Kingston, Tenn., owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

When a retaining wall collapsed, hundreds of acres were covered with coal ash sludge. The grayish, toxic muck destroyed or damaged 40 homes. Cleanup may cost nearly $1 billion.

The agency, which earlier this year pledged to be transparent and carry out its work in the public view, wanted to disclose the information until the Army Corps of Engineers said it shouldn’t because of national security concerns.

The information is now caught in a bureaucratic tussle, with one agency wanting to alert the public to the hazard and another agency fearing that widespread release of the information might, if terrorists got involved, put the public in danger.

Senator wants disclosure

In a letter dated June 4, the Corps told the EPA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency that the federal government should not alert the public to the whereabouts of the sites.

“Uncontrolled or unrestricted release (of the information) may pose a security risk to projects or communities by increasing its attractiveness as a potential target,” Steven L. Stockton, the Army Corps’ director of civil works, wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

At the same time, the Corps letter says the information should be passed on to state officials or coal plant operators and they should tell nearby communities of the risks.

California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer called Friday for the disclosure of the hazardous coal ash storage sites around the country.

“If these sites are so hazardous, then I believe that it’s essential to let people know,” Boxer said.

“I think secrecy might lead to inaction.”

She said she has written to the three federal agencies asking whether withholding the information is consistent with the way information about other hazardous sites is handled.

Boxer, as chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has held several hearings on the issue and has promised more.

Boxer said she was allowed to tell other senators who represent states where the dangerous sites are located, and they have contacted emergency response agencies in those areas.

She said the restriction on disclosing the locations doesn’t make sense to her.
“There is a huge muzzle on me,” she said.

Decision isn’t final

The sites have existed for years with little or no federal regulation. And oversight at the state level varies, with some treating coal ash ponds like dams used for power generation and flood control and others not regulating their construction or siting at all.

The 44 sites were ranked as high hazards, meaning they could cause death and significant property damage if a storm, a terrorist attack or a structural failure caused them to spill into surrounding neighborhoods.

Eric Halpin, special assistant for dam and levee safety for the Corps of Engineers, said that “we did not direct anyone to withhold or not release information,” but he said federal policy says “you shouldn’t make it easy for the bad guys to do their jobs” by posting lists on the Internet or giving them to the media.

A Homeland Security Department spokeswoman said late Friday that the Corps position was not the final word on the matter and could be reversed. A final recommendation will be made by the FEMA administrator after a review by the National Dam Safety Review Board.

The EPA estimates that about 300 dry landfills and wet storage ponds are used around the country to store ash from coal-fired power plants.

The man-made structures hold a mixture of the noncombustible ingredients of coal and the ash trapped by equipment designed to reduce air pollution from the power plants.

The latest Energy Department data indicate that 721 power plants nationwide produced 95.8 million tons of coal ash in 2005.

The ash can contain heavy metals and other toxic contaminants, but there are no federal regulations or standards that govern its storage or disposal.

source: The Tennessean


Barbara Boxer cares?? She’s more interested in getting the cap and trade bill passed. It’s where the money for a few is to be made at the expense of the people. That’s her caring.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-California) has now signaled her panel might act before August.

Boxer for the first time Thursday stated a clear desire to mark up a cap-and-trade bill in her panel before the August recess.

Boxer has waited for House Democratic leaders to act in order to help use their deal-making with an array of Democrats to make it easier for her to get a filibuster-proof 60 votes.

She is not expected to make major changes to the House bill. {source}

TVA seeks financial “immunity” in ash spill cases

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Immunity from liability seems to be the norm if you are a government entity, bank or large corporation.

By: Pam SohnChattanooga Times Free Press

TVA is seeking immunity from financial liability for the Dec. 22 Kingston fly ash spill.

In a Knoxville hearing Thursday in federal court, Tennessee Valley Authority attorneys agreed to an April 17 deadline to file a motion to dismiss all of the cases in their entirety based on TVA’s claim of “discretionary function” immunity.

TVA spokesman Gil Francis declined comment on court actions Thursday, but said TVA plans to be in federal court next week to defend against the myriad of lawsuits now combined into one case.

Residents’ attorney Elizabeth Alexander said TVA is claiming that, as a federal government entity, it cannot be sued.

“On the one hand, TVA has made representations to the community that they want to make everything better and, on the other hand in the court, they’re seeking complete immunity from responsibility,” she said after the hearing.

The cases are the result of more than 1.1 billion gallons of ash sludge falling into the Emory River and rural farmland in Harriman and Kingston, Tenn., when a earthen berm landfill wall collapsed.

Bob Giltnane, a plaintiff in the case, said he was shocked by TVA’s position.

“I don’t understand why TVA thinks it can devastate our community, families and businesses, and then claim TVA can avoid accountability for its actions,” he said in a statement prepared by the law firm. “TVA should take responsibility for what it has done to us.”


More than 70 properties bought near TVA’s Ash spill

TVA has bought more than 70 properties near the Kingston plant where the coal ash spill happened in December, the agency announced today.

The purchases include properties from less than one-quarter acre in size to more than 20 acres. About $20 million was paid for the total of about 225 acres bought, TVA spokesman Gil Francis said this afternoon.

Those just outside the area are still in limbo, but TVA says it has been working to help those most affected get compensated.

Others who are also nearby and are affected are being shut out, said an attorney for some of those just outside the immediate area.

“Thousands and thousands of other folks in Roane County impacted by the spill have not gotten any money from the TVA,” said Mark Chalos, attorney with Lieff, Cabraser law firm in Nashville, representing about 20 individuals, families and businesses.

The firm has also filed a class action lawsuit, asking for medical monitoring of family, environmental testing and compensation for any harm.

“TVA has created this impression that …’We’ll get to you eventually.’
“What they’re doing in legal terms is trying to get the court to find they’re immune and don’t have to pay anybody anything for the harms they’ve caused.”


TVA cleanup intensifies and so does the heat bill

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Although the TVA ash spill has dropped out from the national news, there is still a major story here to be told. The local press continues to expose some facts and TVA continues to spin. All while TVA customers are paying and struggling with the highest bills in history.

TVA once prided itself on having the lowest or very near the lowest rates in the country. No more. Local reports are that some neighboring states that are not TVA controlled are paying half or less for the same amount of electricity. TVA says it’s our fault. We haven’t conserved enough. As if in these economic times there are a great number of people who can afford energy efficient appliances, heating systems and new homes.

This is what happens when centralized government monopolies without oversight from our ‘representatives’ are in control. Not a lot different than when private monopolies such as Enron and the oil companies have a license to steal.


This property, with TVA’s Kingston plant looming in the background, remains covered in sludge ash.

Restoring Area May Be the Biggest Challange

January 26, 2009

HARRIMAN, Tenn. — TVA is near the end of its first phase of response to a massive coal ash spill in East Tennessee last month, stabilizing and preventing further spread of the sludge at an estimated cost of $1 million a day.

The giant public utility is considering options for what could be the costliest, lengthiest and most complicated operations: removing the ash from land and water and restoring the area to pre-spill conditions.

One of the trickiest jobs could be removing the coal ash from the Emory River and possibly downstream on the Clinch River, both of which have pockets of radioactive materials buried in the riverbed that can be traced to splitting atoms for nuclear power and weapons development upstream at Oak Ridge decades ago.

Residents are concerned about where the ash will be put and whether, as TVA tries to move it, the materials can become airborne or move downstream and harm people or aquatic life.

TVA is developing plans and an official said it will soon move into the next phase, which would include dredging at a weir on the Emory built to capture coal ash.

“We’re going to get the material out of the river,” said Anda Ray, TVA’s senior vice president of the Office of Environment and Research. “We’re going to do the right thing, not the low-cost thing.”

The cost of removing the ash will depend on the depth of the dredging in the streambed, whether the ash is allowed to dry out initially on a barge or at a land facility, and where the muck will go for disposal.

About 5.4 million cubic yards of ash sludge tumbled from TVA’s aboveground combination pond/landfill when it ruptured on Dec. 22, knocking one nearby home off its foundations, downing trees and power lines, killing fish and sullying about 275 acres. It filled two inlets of the Emory.

Dredge risk downplayed

The Emory — along with the Clinch River, which it flows into, and the Lower Watts Bar Reservoir, which they both enter — still has pockets of sediment that holds radioactive cesium and a host of other ills from nuclear power production and weapons development at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation several decades ago.

The lake was already off limits to commercial fishing because of the contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from unspecified sources, and the public has been warned for years not to eat striped bass from the lower Emory River and the Clinch.

A state advisory says no one should eat more than one meal a month of catfish or sauger from there, and pregnant women and children shouldn’t eat the fish at all. The Clinch River has advisories on even more species.

Some environmentalists have pointed out that dredging could kick up sediment, but a committee of state, TVA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA officials that has to inspect any dredging requests in the area downriver of Oak Ridge has said the action would not be a problem in the Emory.

“Most of the sediment that’s going to be dredged in any one given location is really not going to be that heavily contaminated,” said John Shewairy, spokesman for the DOE office in Oak Ridge.

Eroding soil from development and other sites over the decades has buried much of the older sediment, with the higher concentrations of cesium found 8 to 32 inches deep.

Sampling over the years on the Emory has consistently shown cesium levels below the amount that would prohibit the sediment from being spread on agricultural lands, according to monitoring data that the group provided. That’s the only requirement if levels are high.

Strontium, mercury and uranium were among the materials that regularly moved in the 1950s and 1960s from DOE’s Oak Ridge Reservation via streams that flow into the Clinch River. With the Emory draining into the Clinch, materials have backed up into it also.

Testing historically showed only cesium levels were high enough to keep an eye on in the Emory, according to John Owsley with the state’s DOE Oversight Office. The radioactivity, buried over the years, has weakened, he said.

More testing, however, would have to be carried out if ash is found in the Clinch that must be dredged, the interagency group said in a Jan. 15 letter to TVA.

The heavy part of the ash has not been found beyond the Emory, TVA’s Ray said. However, lighter “cenospheres” the agency says are inert, hollow particles have floated miles downstream into the Clinch River and Watts Bar Reservoir on the Tennessee River.

The state, which must give permission for any dredging, wants swift action on the river cleanup.

more – The Tennessean


TVA memo spins environmental impact of coal ash disaster

TVA’s edited internal memo on coal ash disaster


Tennessee fumes over high heating bills

Nashville-area utilities get record number of calls.

Customers of Nashville Electric Service who felt sticker shock when they received their December bills were not alone.

Across the Nashville region, electricity users have been hit with painful and surprising balances on bills. Utilities received record numbers of customer service calls as representatives explained that slightly higher rates, colder-than-average weather and increased energy usage contributed to the spike.

In recent weeks, many customers — thousands at NES alone — have expressed outrage over high bills or made arrangements to pay them late, as the seemingly overnight increase left many of them scratching their heads. Others have become more prudent about turning off lights and lowering thermostats when they are not home.

While the companies have little control over rates, Jones said, customers do have control over conserving energy: make sure their homes are weatherproofed and buy energy efficient appliances.

“The day has passed of leaving the light on when they leave the room,” he said.

Tennessee has the 13th-highest consumption of electricity per capita.

Customer gets $304 bill

Hendersonville resident Mark Powelson was perplexed over the prices and his $304 electric bill for using 2,958 kilowatt-hours. His father a state away in Missouri used the same amount of power — though from a different electric company — and paid $128.

The rate increases that customers see are handed down to the utilities from TVA through cost adjustments, which are made quarterly.

“Is it fair? Are we being overcharged because of mismanagement and overrun costs that aren’t necessary?” Powelson said. “It just seems to me that the rates have gotten so high and they shouldn’t be.”

Jones, of Middle Tennessee Electric, said Tennessee has among the lowest rates in the country. The average bill for the agency was about $155.

“Rates are still about 20 percent below the national average,” Jones said. “We are somewhat spoiled with our rates.”

Powelson wants to find out firsthand how Tennessee matches up. He is so determined to understand what is happening that he has asked friends and family from across the country to send him copies of their bills from places like Georgia, Maine, Indiana and Minnesota.

“My father in 15 years has not had a rate increase,” he said. “If that electric company can do it and still profit, why can’t TVA model that and do the same?”

P.D. Mynatt, spokesman for the Murfreesboro Electric Department, echoed his counterpart at Middle Tennessee Electric and said all utilities are busy educating customers on how to lower their bills.

Customers should weatherstrip windows and doors, and turn off or even unplug appliances not being used. Customers can also perform an energy audit on their homes or ask for a representative to do it.

“It is important for customers to utilize their energy wisely,” Mynatt said.

Bills could get worse before they get better, he warned, because of a chilly January, when temperatures approached zero degrees some days.

“Customers should probably anticipate their bills will not be coming down, and if anything they may be going up,” Mynatt said.

more – The Tennessean


Although TVA and the local electric companies do a good job of keeping the electricity flowing, they have always wasted billions of dollars.

From 1977 to 1984, TVA was constructing a nuclear plant in Hartsville, TN. After spending at least $2 billion, the project was canceled. Maybe cancellation was a good thing but it never should have been started.

Having known a number of people who worked on this project, the horror stories they told were many. Not the least of which was the burying of possibly millions of dollars worth of equipment and materials on the site just to keep some of the costs covered up.

There also have been reports of clandestine government activities taking place at the Hartsville site. Whether true or not remains to be seen.

TVA Disaster Spreads Far and Wide

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Erin Brockovich and Robin Greenwald
Posted January 13, 2009

As a result of a 1.1 billion gallon spill of contaminated fly ash, there has been discussion, press reportage and blogging about the environmental disaster in eastern Tennessee Most of us have seen the pictures — a 300+ acre area strewn with black and brown muck as far as the eye can see. Houses lifted off their foundations and thrown across the road, yards filled so high with ash that people can’t leave their homes without stepping in it, roadways littered with the ash from trucks going to and from the site, and an eerie still where active life once existed. While this story continues to unfold — as more samples are taken that delineate the true toxicity of this mess, as TVA makes plans to contain and abate the disaster — there is a story that has not been told. It is a story that must be told. And that story is the lives of innocent bystanders that have been turned upside down by this avoidable disaster.

I learned of this disaster on the news just as we all did. Usually I receive an email from someone in the community where there has been an environmental problem. At first, it was all quiet. About 10 days after the tragedy I got the first email, then another one and another one and another one, and they kept coming. I also started receiving anonymous tips. It occurred to me that maybe more was going on than what I could gather from the news. With an invitation from the community, I decided to make the trip.

Let’s be honest. Usually when I am called into an environmental disaster, I anticipate that industry isn’t going to step up to the plate and do what’s right by the people. Lawsuits almost always ensue; it would be foolish for me to walk into a situation like this without an attorney. Besides, I consult with two law firms in the United States: Girardi & Keese in Los Angeles and Weitz & Luxenberg in New York. I traveled to the area with an attorney, Robin Greenwald from Weitz and Luxenberg, along with some experts. In many instances such as this disaster, government agencies are absent due to lack of funds and can only rely on the information that industry gives them; and industry generally operates under concealment.

When I first arrived on the site, I was pretty quiet. It took a while to absorb what I was looking at. I knew there was a lake but an entire area was gone. I kept wondering “Where did the water go?” I couldn’t decide if it looked more like a tornado had gone through, a mudslide, landslide, maybe a volcano erupted or a tidal wave. It is now a “moonscape.” The landscape has completely changed. It is almost unidentifiable.

Watching TV never gives you an idea of the extent of damage. It’s only when you stand there that you can actually feel the magnitude.

It struck me that I had an unusual taste on my lips and in my mouth. I asked others if they noticed that, and they did. Some experienced scratchy throats, respiratory problems, itchy and burning eyes and tasted what one expert believed to be sulfuric acid. If we were experiencing this much discomfort after a few minutes, what on earth are the people who live here feeling?

The other thing that stood out in my mind was how fortunate it was that this event took place when it did.

What would it have been like had this occurred in the summer during the middle of the day? Hundreds of people boat on this lake. Children swim and play in these waters. I was struck by the number of deaths that might have occurred but didn’t.

This corner of Roane County Tennessee is off the beaten path. It is remote, distant from any main street and city noise. It is easy to see the beauty of rolling mountains, lakes, rivers, comfortable family homes. It is serene, a piece of heaven on earth. This was a safe place to raise kids, to teach them to fish and swim, to enjoy family and have barbecues or sit quietly to watch the sunset on warm summer nights. I could see why people live there. Over the past couple of weeks we have had the opportunity to speak with people about life both before December 22. Life in the Kingston/Harriman area was idyllic. It was a place people chose as their home. It was a place that, even if jobs took people away in their youth, they awaited the day they could return and did so as soon as possible. It is a beautiful place, with water bodies everywhere. There are green meadows laced among the waters. These shared memories come to life in the “before” photographs that residents showed us. The pictures show children diving from docks into the lake, people canoeing along the rivers, families tubing in the hot summer sun and children and their dogs walking along the shore. A favorite scene of many residents is the sunset over the water, with the soft nighttime colors glistening on the lake. It went from pristine to profaned overnight.

The “after” picture is nothing but a sludge-filled lake, dead fish and miles and miles of contamination flowing out of control. And what cannot be captured by photographs is the human toll of this disaster. The child who wakes up nightly with nightmares; the woman whose cough is so severe she can hardly speak and has been diagnosed with acute asthma from the ash spill; the tri-athlete who can no longer train in his environs; the families scared to death to go outside for fear they breathe in the toxic ash in the air; people realizing that TVA’s recommendation to boil their water before drinking it in the wake of the disaster was a false comfort and bottled water, at their own expense, is the only solution for drinking; and the couple who lives downwind of the disaster who, following walking their dog on a hilltop on a windy night, suffered severe nose bleeds. This is a very frightening time for the people of this community. This community is incredibly brave, but it is also rightfully fearful — they love their community, their homes, their environment and they don’t want to leave, but they also don’t want to stay at the risk of their health. They want answers and they can’t get them. Many people have the same tale: they call the TVA hotline for answers and help but no one answers or returns their calls. Why does this happen? What did they do to deserve such treatment? I can only imagine the sadness of the families. The whole area looks like a wound on the land. To heal it, it’s going to take more than a band-aid and a squirt of Bactine.

The next day of my visit we did a fly over of the site, which showed the big picture. Extending for at least 5 to 6 miles downstream, we could see a plume of this toxic ash floating down the river, resting on the banks. We saw the remaining refrigerator and patch of roof where the now demolished house once stood. We saw a child’s trampoline, once in someone’s backyard, now buried in TVA’s toxic sludge. We saw miles of ash, still traveling down river, contaminating riverbanks along the way. In truth, there are no words to describe the scenes of devastation from this disaster. The pictures are powerful, but they simply cannot capture the panorama of devastation. This was a sludge tsunami — but one caused by corporate neglect, not natural occurrences. And what it left behind from this tsunami are mounds of toxic rubble where a lake once existed, where rivers flow and where children used to play.

We all wonder what will happen to the ecosystem: the fish and wildlife. The human life. How far reaching is this event? What does the future hold for the public health and safety? Overnight a whole community’s lifestyle is gone.

It is bad enough that TVA mismanaged this 50+ year old waste pile of coal ash. But to put salt in the wounds of its neighbors by failing to provide critically important answers and aid is incomprehensible. TVA should have mobilized hundreds of medical experts to go to peoples’ homes and answer their questions. They need to be honest and transparent about their knowledge of the make-up of the sludge, what they plan to do with it and how they intend to return life to what it used to be, if that is even possible. TVA should have a hotline that is manned sufficiently so that no one is ever put on hold or, worse yet, not answered at all. The residents of this community deserve to be treated with honesty and respect, and that is not happening. Even local elected officials are letting residents down, spending their time telling residents not to work with attorneys instead of camping outside TVA’s doors demanding honest and fast answers to critically important health questions. As you know, we work on the legal side. While we cannot fully appreciate the pain and fear of those who are living the fall out of this disaster on a daily basis, we saw and heard enough to understand that our presence and our voice is critically important to ensure that this community is treated fairly and provided the truth about the present situation and their future. We will continue to aid this community as it struggles through the haze that TVA has created and continues to fuel.

So many questions come to mind but there aren’t any answers. My motto has become “Prevention rather than Rescue.”

Hindsight always shows how these tragedies could have been prevented. If history teaches us anything, it shows us that yesterday is our “crystal ball.” In the now famous case, Pacific Gas and Electric knew that their contamination was affecting innocent people yet did nothing but try to convince people that the poison was good for them.

If TVA knew of leaks years before this disaster and sat and waited, is “oops” we’re sorry” going to be enough?

The infrastructure handling coal fly ash in the U.S. is old and needs to be replaced. Can we worry about the cost of replacing the old with the new when health and safety and the environment depends on it? We can see that contamination moves through air, land and water. Can we sit back and wait for communities to get sick when we can prevent it now?

Science usually lags behind the law. But in this case, law lags behind science because coal fly ash handling is not regulated as it should be. And we have a pretty good grasp on the fact that Coal Fly Ash is not healthy.

A poison is a poison. It certainly can’t be good for you. Does anyone believe that the arsenic in the fly ash along with other heavy metals won’t leech into the groundwater? 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic compounds unleashed into the garden. We don’t need a crystal ball to see the rough road ahead.
source: Huffington Post

Also see: Brockovich: ‘Don’t be afraid to speak up’


The cost of cleaning up TVA’s Dec. 22 catastrophic coal ash slide at its Kingston power plant in East Tennessee is estimated at more than $20 million so far, officials say.

“We’re over a million dollars a day, that’s a fairly safe answer, and we’ll probably be at that level for a while yet,” Preston Swafford, the executive vice president of TVA’s Fossil Fuel Group, said when asked for a ballpark figure Monday evening.

TVA officials have already told the Associated Press it’s likely at least some of the cost will be passed along to customers.
more – The Tennessean


What the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is finding in fish from the area around the Kingston fly ash spill is troubling but not surprising.

One catfish had 33 grams of ash in its stomach. All the 38 fish TWRA netted had abrasions on their scales or skin. All of the fish had discolored gills. All of the fish showed signs of stress.

“What we have found so far is about what you would expect to find,” said Dan Hicks, information and education officer for TWRA’s Region III office in Crossville.

“It’s hard to predict what the long-term impact is going to be because there are a lot of unknowns. There’s no textbook biologists can turn to for an answer.”

TWRA has spent the last two days trying to net 40 fish. When netted, the fish are filleted and soft tissue samples sent to Nashville for testing.

Through Tuesday afternoon the agency had collected 38 fish and found that many of the species usually found in the area where the Clinch and Emory rivers meet are not there.

“Mike Jolley (TWRA fisheries biologist) told me typically we should find 23 species of fish here,” Hicks said. “So far we have found six.”

more – Knoxville News Sentinel


TVA must get state OK to resume Ocoee sluicing

The Tennessee Valley Authority must get state approval before opening a sluice gate at an Ocoee River dam where last week the agency released tons of foul-smelling sediments, according to an order issued this week by Tennessee regulators.

According to the order, TVA also must submit a plan to safely remove the sediments, which likely contain contaminants like copper, iron and zinc and other pollutants, and restore the affected stretch of the river.

Another provision of the order calls for TVA to submit a management plan for the dam, designated as Ocoee Dam No. 3.

The spill left “foul-smelling, black-colored, muddy, sludge-like material” 3.5 feet deep on the river, killing fish and swamping the area near the Ocoee Whitewater Center.

TDEC already has issued to TVA a notice of violation for the Jan. 4 incident. Paul Davis, director of TDEC’s Division of Water Pollution Control, signed the order.

TVA “shall not resume sluicing operations until approval for such activity has been obtained from the division,” according to the order dated Tuesday.

The order also notes that “TVA had made no prior contact with either the division or the (National) Forest Service regarding these special operations of the Ocoee series of dams and powerhouses.”

TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said workers opened the bottom sluice gate at Ocoee Dam No. 3 in anticipation of forecasted rain in light of “routine maintenance” being performed downstream at Ocoee Dam No. 2.

Martocci noted that TVA stopped sluicing operations Jan. 8, one day before TDEC issued a notice of violation. She said the agency is investigating the cause of the release and is responding to the state’s order. She also said TVA typically doesn’t alert TDEC when the gates are used.

“We use those sluice gates 30 or 40 times a year to move water for recreation.”

The dam is upstream from the sections used for whitewater sports and the spill fouled the stretch of the Ocoee developed for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

more – Knoxville News Sentinel


TVA Coal Ash – Before and After

TVA has demonstrated a high level of deceit

Posted on Updated on

Widows Creek Spill/Leak/Rupt Watch for Snakes n’ure Part3 Aerial Photos.

Update: Monday, Jan. 12, 2009: Reports are surfacing that more than ash may be dumped into the ash holding ponds at Widows Creek. (Freethinker1963 or anyone else that has info on petroleum products or other hazardous wastes being dumped at Widows Creek , other TVA sites or the Tennessee River in Alabama or east Tennessee contact me at .) Link listing the hazardous materials found at Widows Creek TVA Ash Ponds:

TVA has issued a press release today that no dangerous materials were revealed in water testing. TVA Test Results indicate high levels of metals and petroleum products: Independent testing is being accomplished. TVA has demonstrated a high level of deceit in reporting of the spills in Harriman Tn. as well as the Widows Creek, Al. spill. More from the Enviromental Integrity Project
Another hole opening up in the ash pond? Notice the dark area in the corner of the ash pond. The river is the body of water slightly visible on bottom left of photo. The Waterkeepers Alliance is conducting independent testing of this hazardous waste spill.

Cenospheres moving downstream with a heavier sludge layer evident to the right of the photo.

Mr. John Moulton of TVA Public Relations denies photo’s of the ash release 17 miles downstream is evidence of the extent of the spill. Further investigation reveals TVA’s level of deceit as evidenced by these photographs and the photomicrograph below. Quote from Mr. Moulton in the Tennessean article, “TVA spokesman John Moulton said he didn’t believe that whatever Morgan had pictured in photographs was ash or gypsum from either the Kingston or Widows Creek spills. “Most of what was released into Widows Creek was water, to our knowledge it is not ash and it is not gypsum” Moulton said.” (Story link in part 2 article below.) Evidence is provided that Mr. Moulton and the TVA’s claim concerning the extent of this spill are not truthful, nor knowledgeable and is not contained. more


Widows Creek Spill/Leak/Rupture Part2 Ash spill not contained.

It is also evident that the extent of the hazardous waste sludge and ash release is greater than what the TVA has stated. Aerial photos reveal a large subsurface sludge mass progressing downstream. Is ash still spilling into the river? It appears there are other suspicious dark areas in the ash pits, the spill is not contained and is spilling into the river at the time of the photos.
Content of Coal Ash, EPA Link, note that coal ash is radioactive. The real question, how much sludge and ash were spilled into Widows Creek and the Tennessee River? Gypsum was not the only waste product released in this spill. Gypsum in the scrubbers catch the real nasty pollutants from the combustion process.

The TVA has reported the spill is contained, not true as evidenced by these photos. The north shore of the river is coated with the silvery, ashen sludge for several miles down stream.

Update: TVA official denies substance in photos is part of a spill from Widows Creek. Apparently John Moulton of the TVA has made statements which are part of the ever growing deceit of the TVA. Here are the pictures, I have the sample, Mr. Moulton may certainly drive to the site as can anyone else. How can Mr. Moulton say it isn’t part of the spill when he hasn’t examined the sludge on the north shoreline? Does he know something else is leaking from the TVA or some other polluting source, it appears he is speaking without knowing the facts or without examining the downstream substance? more