Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Former Mine Safety Engineer Sees Omens of Christmas Disaster in TVA's Past Inspection Reports

A reporter with an online engineering magazine interviews a former national mine health and safety engineer who argues that past inspections had red lights flashing and sirens blaring about the possible collapse of the Kingston fossil fuel plant dike. His judgment contradicts TVA claims that increased rain fall and low temperatures caused a breach that they couldn't predict:
Jack Sparado, a former national mine safety and health engineer, says that the inspection report indicates serious problems that TVA should have addressed. He conducted the engineering analysis of a similar, 300-million-gal, coal slurry spill in Martin County, Ky., in 2000 and wrote the engineering report of the Buffalo Creek, W.Va., coal slurry spill that killed more than 100 people in 1972.

Sparado says the dike has been failing since 2003 because of foundation piping, or internal erosion. There had been two minor blowouts in recent years and TVA noted seepage. The agency took corrective measures, Sparado says, but the only solution would have been to drain the reservoir and reconstruct the dam. “It was completely irresponsible of TVA to allow the dam to continue to be used when they knew of these previous problems,” he says. “They should have done a complete stability analysis of whole dam and essentially reconstructed it. It certainly should have been engineered better than it was.”
Go read the rest of the article for Sparado's opinion on whether the ash is toxic and whether recovery from the other spills he analyzed has happened.

If this mine safety engineer is correct, then TVA is not the only culpable party. We've got a corrupt government oversight system that allows fatal flaws in waste sequestration systems that put innocent Americans in harms way and menace neighborhoods. Is TDEC responsible for oversight? Where was federal regulation? This is beyond the pale of outrageous.

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