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roberts618 12-25-2008 12:02 PM

Sludge Spill in Eastern TN
Unless I am missing something, I am surprised to have not seen comments on this major sludge spill. The first I heard of it was on the Wednesday night NBC Nightly News.

Anyone live near there or have a report?

Stonefly 12-25-2008 12:43 PM

Damage to the Clinch?
I've also been expecting to see some comments. As I read it, 400 acres flooded up to 6' deep. That's huge. Anyone know where it enters the Clinch?


Rockyraccoon 12-25-2008 05:39 PM

It is well downstream of the trout fishery in the Norris Tailwater. In fact, it's less than a mile from where the Clinch River enters the TN River.

It's a bad situation nevertheless.

snaildarter 12-26-2008 01:20 AM

Yes, what a wonderful situation. TVA wants us to know that drinking water is not threatened. Whew! Never mind the hundreds of fish that floated up dead, or the thousands of dead fish that didn't float, or the contaminated fish that will be eaten by pregnant mothers that will produce a few more brain-stunted kids. Never mind that the EPA knows that there are toxic metals in it, including arsenic and mercury, and that the EPA water testing has not yet finished despite TVA's spin doctors already assuring everyone that everything is A-OK! And never mind that the dam was apparently so weak that it couldn't hold 6 inches of rain over 10 days.

Ah, nice clean coal, removed from the finest mountain tops in Tennessee! I guess we should be thankful that some of the mercury was burned out the smokestacks and rained acid on the Smokies' brookies instead of all winding up in the Clinch.

Here are a few links, including a video of a flyover of the affected area. The flyover takes a LOT longer to get from one end to the other than you might think.

Merry Christmas!

roberts618 12-26-2008 10:17 AM

Slude Spill
The more I think about, I am really surprised that environment groups are not more into this major spill. I have not see or heard anything from any of them. Guess, they got other fish to fry.

It is sad when this happens and there are no consequences for the company responsible and their management. Tells me how weak the environmental laws have become. Unfortunately the new administration will probably not improve them any given all the other problems we are facing.

ttas67 12-26-2008 11:30 AM

The link below will take you to a bunch of pictures of the damage:

rickytroutbob 12-26-2008 05:27 PM

Prior to 2000 the Clinton Administration had managed to back the coal guys into the shadows. They passed legislation for "natural gas fired electrical generation" which would eventually end coal burning at U.S. power plants. Of course, the coal guys put a lot of $ into the Bush campaign in hopes of overturning said legislation. Once Bush came into office, the term
"clean coal" was invented. Bush shoved this through congress on the tails of 911 and the highest approval rating ever for a President.

Of course, we all know the rest of the story....

Natural Gas fired technology prevents this from ever happening.

ChemEAngler 12-26-2008 09:06 PM

Yes, I agree that this is a bad situation for the area and the fishery. Also, it does appear that their is a media blackout on this topic.

However, before everybody starts jumping on the natural gas or syngas bandwagon people need to realize how this will affect everybody. First of all coal is widely available and cheap. Syngas plants (IGCC) take coal and convert it to a gas that can then be burned at much lower particulate and contaminant levels. However, these syngas plants are EXTREMELY expensive. Switching to natural gas plants would drive up the cost of natural gas for residential use. People around here got a shock when they opened their last month's electric bill after TVA raised rates 20%. Imagine how bad things would be if electric rates went up another 20% and home heating rates went up 20 - 40%. Pretty much what is expected to happen if this switch were to occur. America needs a balanced portfolio of power sources: nuclear, coal, gas, hydro, wind, and solar (when the technology catches up).


Speckleman5 12-26-2008 09:54 PM

I feel sorry for the people whose homes and property was damaged. Puts a damper on their holiday spirit I am sure.

snaildarter 12-27-2008 03:16 AM

Travis, you are of course right that coal is cheap, cheap, cheap, and that most people are only concerned with the costs of things now, now, now.

Coal would be much more expensive if you made it pay for health, property, commercial, and environmental damages. We could probably both dig up numerous figures, some of them controversial. But a fairly direct and less controversial figure is that coal adds about 6 cents/kWh in health costs alone. Something to think about when Knoxville is competing for top spot in worst air quality in the nation again, and your kid has to go to the doctor again for his asthma. That Harriman plant is a big reason for Knoxville's bad air quality.

Environmentalists claim that many other forms of energy are already cheaper once you factor in all the externalities. Maybe or maybe not. I personally just hate coal. I'd rather see a mountain covered in oil wells than to see it torn down and dumped into the stream in the valley next to it. Oil wells can eventually come down, but that mountain and stream are gone forever. Nuclear waste can be buried under some mountain out West. ANY source of energy we can get is better than coal. There is nothing worse.

I think this failure to really consider all the costs of coal is kinda like most people buy their cell phones. A subsidized cell phone seems like a great deal right now at $50, but it looks a lot worse when you get locked into that 2-year contract for $80 a month. Or maybe it's more like Social Security, where we get the benefits now, but charge it to our kids and grand kids. Or maybe it's more like Medicare, for the same reasons. Or maybe it's like our current economic crisis, caused by a massive expansion of bad credit. These things are all great up front, but then long-term reality sets in.

In any event, this current Harriman disaster was brought on by the desire to do the job the cheapest way that TVA could get away with. I'm sure some TVA engineering group was well rewarded for showing how cheaply they could store that ash behind some cheap earthen dam. Again, cheap right now, but not cheap once the odds finally mature.

THIS JUST IN: I just read that the spill is now twice as large as they thought it was.

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