Sunday, November 19, 2006

NewsChannel5: WMD Threat Sits on the North End's Door Step

On Friday night, NewsChannel5 Investigative Reporter Phil Williams broadcast the alarming news that the Metro Water Treatment facility, which sits a block outside of Salemtown, is not only still using hazardous chlorine gas in the water treatment process, but keeps that gas stored in 4 large railroad cars on the northern edge of its property near a public road. The cars are guarded by one security guard, two chain-link fences topped with razor wire, and security cameras, none of which would do much to prevent a terrorist attack on those cars.

While other communities have changed to less hazardous agents for treating their water, Metro Water defends its use and the seemingly minimal safeguards it has to prevent an attack. Chlorine gas was used as a biological weapon in WWI because of its immediate toxicity; when inhaled it burns the lungs and literally causes a person to drown in their own fluids. Such a scenario would be disastrous for local neighborhoods like Salemtown and Germantown, but it would also be a calamity for sections of Nashville downwind of the location. Gas could blow across the river into East Nashville or into Downtown Nashville itself.

But obviously those of us who live in the Plant's shadow are the most directly affected by this if the danger is as Mr. Williams says it is. I would say that someone at Metro Water owes us a little more than a lone guard, some chain link fencing, and cameras, none of which will save us in either an attack or an accident. In a related story, NewChannel5 also reported that hazardous gas-filled tank cars pass through every section of Nashville regularly along the major railroad arteries.


  1. That reporter, hell, and probably his editor were in grade school when Bhopal happened. That stuff is nasty, what are your options now?

    On the railcar issue, I have been screaming about this (albeit, to family and friends) for years. Look o at the cars that hold this stuff, what do you see? Grafitti. If a tagger can get to it, somebody that means to harm alot of people certainly can. Homeland Sec has to be the biggest joke played on the American people, ever.

  2. This topic came up at the Urban Residents Association meeting downtown last night. There were reps from the police and emergency management present. One of the officers acknowledged that he knew about the issue and had seen the story as well. Nobody offered any encouragement that the threat would be addressed anytime soon.