Friday, December 26, 2008

TVA's new math, my ash

Go read the NY Times' latest reportage on the changes in TVA's estimates on the scope of the Kingston disaster, and then tell me that they were not soft peddling and covering their ashes (which is not nearly the same as being cautious and conservative in their estimates) in the wake of the calamity:
Authority officials initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond breached, but on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep. The amount now said to have been spilled is larger than the amount the Authority initially said was in the pond, 2.6 million cubic yards.

Authority officials offered little explanation for the discrepancy, telling reporters that the initial number was an estimate based on their information at the time. The aerial survey was done on Tuesday, but the results were not released until Thursday. Calls to an Authority spokesman on Friday morning were not immediately returned.
The Times also quotes residents stunned at the new numbers. I would be outraged for my family's welfare if I lived there and found out that the amount of the spill were actually larger than the original survey numbers. How can the spill be any more than what was measured within the contained and more easily surveyed confines of a "pond"? And how can the TVA's defense that the pond did not exceed allowable capacity have any merit now that the spill is estimated at three times the original calculations while the sludge was contained?

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