Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Brunt of the Pounding

According to yesterday's NY Times, a 2007 TVA inventory on file at the Environmental Protection Agency discloses some harrowing health-related numbers:
The inventory, disclosed by the Tennessee Valley Authority on Monday at the request of The New York Times, showed that in just one year, the plant’s byproducts included 45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems.

And the holding pond, at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a T.V.A. plant 40 miles west of Knoxville, contained many decades’ worth of these deposits.

For days, authority officials have maintained that the sludge released in the spill is not toxic, though coal ash has long been known to contain dangerous concentrations of heavy metals. On Monday, a week after the spill, the authority issued a joint statement with the E.P.A. and other agencies recommending that direct contact with the ash be avoided and that pets and children should be kept away from affected areas.
It is obvious that TVA has been slow to release measurements because they are trying to protect their brand name, but it is particularly despicable that they plainly denied toxicity and told people to boil water rather than stop drinking it altogether to cover their own asses.

It is still not clear what the toxic tonnage of the total spill is, but toxic outputs from their 2006 report do not look any less disheartening. For example, 51,544 pounds of lead were produced in 2006 that were either released (51,542 lbs) or transported to other sites (less than 2 lbs). You can survey and sum the other 2006 toxins after the jump.

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