Posted by: JohnnyRook | December 27, 2008

Our help needed in coal disaster area!

The article below is crossposted with the author’s permission from Daily Kos.  After you’ve read the post, please consider making a contribution to help the victims.

Our help needed in coal disaster area! Hotlist

Sat Dec 27, 2008 at 10:04:25 AM PST

Once Upon A Time, life was good in Harriman Tennessee. Oh sure, there were some bad air days, but sometimes a young couple would sit on the swing, courtin’ and sparkin’…. After a day’s work, sometimes mom and pop would sit out in the evening light, gently swinging, holding hands and sharing their stories of the day.
No more. Disaster has come to Harriman, and life will never be the same. This swing will not be used again.

sludged swing

This community, we Kossacks, probably know more about this tragic event than anyone but the people who are actually living it. For those who have been absent during the holidays,

On Monday morning Dec. 22 around 1:00 am, the earthen retaining wall around this mountain of coal ash failed and approximately 500 million gallons of nasty black coal ash flowed into tributaries of the Tennessee River – the water supply for Chattanooga TN and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

That was an initial report. The reality is worse. Much worse. Yesterday, The Baculum King had a recommended diary which discussed just how much so. Tennessee Coal Sludge Spill 3X What Initially Reported

lg sludge

Appalachian Voices Back Porch Blog reports:

App Voices takes flyover of TVA spill

Written by Harvard Ayers
Founding Board Member, Appalachian Voices

Yesterday, Christmas, December 25, 2008, around 4:30 PM, I flew over the fly ash spill at the TVA Kingston Coal Plant located on Interstate 40, about 30 miles west of Knoxville, Tennessee. The pilot of the flight was Jim Lapis of SouthWings flying service from Bristol, Virginia, and the photographer was Dot Griffith of Banner Elk, North Carolina…….snip……Appalachian Voices is currently dispatching a team of water analysts to the spill scene to aid the citizens of the nearby communities. TVA is saying nothing is amiss and the government agencies have apparently not yet arrived.  In addition to our sampling activities, we will do our best to provide whatever medical or other aid we can to people whose drinking water has been contaminated. Both humans and dogs who drank some of the normally pure water supplies near the spill have supposedly become violently ill with bouts of vomiting.

There are some good pictures included in that post. Heartbreaking pictures. How much breaking can the heart take, and still beat?

The Indian name for the Emory River was “Babahatchie”, which means “babbling waters.”
It was a river to raft, back in the day. At her mouth, the Clinch River, one of the most biodiverse bodies that we have in the country.

There will be ample time to grieve the Rivers.

lg truck sludge

And the homes.
wrecked house

Right now, the residents of the disaster area need assistance. The Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, says move along, nothing to see, we’re cleaning it up, and your drinking water is not affected.
Those drinking it beg to differ. Injury reported as TVA waits for water test results

“We met a man who had been vomiting for the past 12 hours after drinking a couple of pots of coffee made from the tainted water,” said Matt Landon of United Mountain Defense, a Knoxville TN based environmental organization.  “We advised him to go to the hospital.” ……. Begining at 3pm Dec 23, 2008 TVA officials began to visit all of the houses just prior to our visit advising residents to boil their drinking water before consuming it for the next 5 days.

Unfortunately TVA did not inform anyone about the reasons for needing to boil the water and any chemicals that may be present in their water.  The city of Harriman was working 24 hours a day to install a new water pipe in order to provide these residents with cleaner water.  Their current water source was a large spring which may have been contaminated by the spill……..
Meanwhile, TVA waited for water test results before deciding what to do about the massive coal fly ash spill, creeping towards the confluence of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers near Kingston, TN.  According to a New York Times story this morning, environmental officials are struggling to “assess the damage  in hopes that water supplies were not harmed by heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic.”

So residents are not being told that they may be drinking lead, mercury and arsenic. Nice. There are several statements concerning the boiling of this water that claim doing so will only concentrate the toxins. I do not know if this is true, but it seems to make sense. Boiling will destroy bacteria, but it will not destroy heavy metals.

United Mountain Defense, of Knoxville, looks to be the closest and most active helpers in this disaster. They are purchasing gallons of water at the local Kroger’s, at a $1.39 a jug to distribute to residents.

(photos courtesy of United Mountain Defense)

From an e-mail recieved yesterday:

Hey want to help???

1     You need to begin sending requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, TVA, State of TN, Congressional Hearings, and anyone else you can think of to request public hearings.  United Mountain Defense is mobilizing people here and they are plenty mad.  We are ground truthing to provide accurate info to inform you, the public.  We need your help in bringing the TVA criminals and their crimes into the light.

2     United Mountain Defense needs money to purchase water for these coal impacted residents.  On Dec 24, 2008 United Mountain Defense Volunteers passed out over 50 gallons of water to 30 households.  We are going to deliver more water tomorrow.  We are buying water at $1.39 a gallon at the local Krogers.

3     United Mountain Defense needs general support funds as we are an all volunteer run organization.  We mainly get funds from bake sales, spaghetti dinners, and dance/ house parties.  Any funds you could send would be used for our valuable work only.  United Mountain Defense is a 501c3 non-profit.
You can read what we spend money on and we keep all receipts.

Alright, Thank you for your time.

Till then, Matt Landon Full time volunteer staff person United Mountain
Defense

Contact 865 689 2778  or 865 257 4029

Can we help out with donations to them? I know that the generosity of Kossacks can make a huge difference in times of disaster and need.
There is no way that things will ever be the same for those who have lost their homes to this disaster. And it will be years, perhaps decades before the full implications of health problems come home to roost. But for now, for today, perhaps we can ease the suffering with donations to help get the word out on the ground, to those who may be unaware of the danger in that pot of coffee.

United Mountain Defense
P.O. Box 20363
Knoxville, TN 37920
Please mark check: “For TVA Spill”

Paypal link at bottom of page……

Thank you for reading, and for donations. Please remember to do as Mother Jones encouraged……Pray for the dead. Fight like hell for the living.

sludge sunset

oh you blessed Kossacks! Rec list? I am joyful at the thought that we can indeed help these folks. I was out splitting some wood in my bottom field this morning. In the peace, the quiet. The air smells sweet and wintery warm. And I wondered as I worked, what they are smelling in Harriman.
Thank you all.

Update: More blog press. “EMPTY PROMISE”: The broken federal commitment behind the Tennessee coal ash disaster from Facing South, the online magazine of Institute for Southern Studies.

When Earthjustice Attorney Lisa Evans testified earlier this year before a congressional committee about the looming threat from coal combustion waste, she warned that the federal government’s broken pledge to regulate disposal of the potentially dangerous material threatened the health and safety of communities across the country……..

The federal failure to regulate the waste has put 23 states — including Tennessee — in a special bind, since their statutes have “no more stringent” provisions prohibiting them from enacting standards stricter than those found in federal law. Without federal action, those states can’t regulate coal combustion waste disposal beyond the few obviously inadequate safeguards that now exist.

h/t Shireen, of Virginia Forest Watch

Some “technical” stuff coming out now, from the article linked above..

With regulators’ blessing, TVA was simply putting ash from its massive Kingston plant — where nine burners consume 14,000 tons of coal a day — into a nearby lagoon where it was mixed with water, allowed to settle and then pumped into what’s known as a dredge cell. The company reports that the ash level in the dredge cell at the time of the collapse was unusually high: 55 feet above the water level in the nearby ash pond, with a spokesperson describing the level as “a lot higher than any other internal dredge cell that we have in TVA.”

Should anyone close by want to stir the sludge:

COMMISSION MEETING:

The next meeting of the Roane County Commission will be on Monday, January 12, 2009 at 7:00 o’clock p.m. in the Qualls Commission Room on the 2nd floor of the Courthouse in Kingston.

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Responses

  1. Thanks JR! I’ve updated since you posted, with this:

    Update: More blog press. “EMPTY PROMISE”: The broken federal commitment behind the Tennessee coal ash disaster from Facing South, the online magazine of Institute for Southern Studies.

    When Earthjustice Attorney Lisa Evans testified earlier this year before a congressional committee about the looming threat from coal combustion waste, she warned that the federal government’s broken pledge to regulate disposal of the potentially dangerous material threatened the health and safety of communities across the country……..

    The federal failure to regulate the waste has put 23 states — including Tennessee — in a special bind, since their statutes have “no more stringent” provisions prohibiting them from enacting standards stricter than those found in federal law. Without federal action, those states can’t regulate coal combustion waste disposal beyond the few obviously inadequate safeguards that now exist.

    h/t Shireen, of Virginia Forest Watch

    Some “technical” stuff coming out now, from the article linked above..

    With regulators’ blessing, TVA was simply putting ash from its massive Kingston plant — where nine burners consume 14,000 tons of coal a day — into a nearby lagoon where it was mixed with water, allowed to settle and then pumped into what’s known as a dredge cell. The company reports that the ash level in the dredge cell at the time of the collapse was unusually high: 55 feet above the water level in the nearby ash pond, with a spokesperson describing the level as “a lot higher than any other internal dredge cell that we have in TVA.”

    Should anyone close by want to stir the sludge:

    COMMISSION MEETING:

    The next meeting of the Roane County Commission will be on Monday, January 12, 2009 at 7:00 o’clock p.m. in the Qualls Commission Room on the 2nd floor of the Courthouse in Kingston.

  2. Meeting sooner! Sunday.
    http://dirtycoaltva.blogspot.com/2008/12/council-meeting-in-kingston-sunday.html
    Council Meeting in Kingston Sunday
    City Council meeting sunday at 430 pm. at the
    Kingston Community Center. all invited and it’s obviously about the spill.
    there’s a council person , Brant Williams, who is speaking out too..should
    be interesting.


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