Monday, January 26, 2009

"Wild West" of Coal Waste Looking to Tennessee

There's that label again: "Tennessee-style disaster." The Texas Observer comments that TVA's Kingston spill has got Texans doing some soul-searching on the status of their own sequestration systems.  They don't look much better:
An Observer review of state regulations found that coal-fired power plant operators are allowed to dump coal waste in landfills and ponds without a permit. Groundwater monitoring and liners are suggested by TCEQ, but not required. State law does require utilities operating landfills to register with the agency.

But Environmental Integrity Project analyst Jeff Stant, who calls Texas the “wild West” of coal waste, says, “They’re under no obligation to tell TCEQ that they generated [coal waste], much less where they dumped, even if they’re next to a public well-field.”

More than 90 percent of the state’s coal waste may go unregistered with TCEQ, according to a February 2008 study that Stant helped write. The study quotes a TCEQ solid waste specialist saying that most coal waste is “flying under the radar.”
It is truly pitiful that Tennessee's name is linked to disaster. Katrina happened to New Orleans, and as a result, you never hear the term "Louisiana-style hurricane." By linking Tennessee's name to the spill outsiders are dishing up our own karma; almost like we're responsible for soiling our own bed. Maybe we'll think twice next time about the demands we should be putting on polluters. Or maybe we'll just be red-state Tennessee, target of disasters of our own making.

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