In late December of 2008, a coal plant in Tennessee had a massive sludge spill. The wall to their retention pond broke and about 1 billion gallons of sludge spilled out into the surrounding area. All of the residents of this area were evacuated and many homes were either damaged or destroyed.
This sludge is a product of the combustion of coal, which creates an ash, mixed with water. For a while it was contained by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s retention pond facility untill Dec. 22 when the levee broke. This spill was larger in area than the Exxon Valdese Oil Spill damaging about 400 square acers of land. In same areas the sludge measured six feet high! This sludge rolled through like a mudslide taking everything out in its path, including powerlines, which caused people to live without power for days and some for weeks.
The major problem with this spill is contamination of the water supply. A great amount of sludge was able to make it into area rivers and streams where contamination is possible. In many areas hundreds of dead fish can be seen on the banks or the rivers or even floating on top of the water. The TVA says that this is not because of the spill. I for one do not believe them. If you add a new toxin to a controlled environment there will be adverse effects, in this case all the fish died. Fish are very fragile when it somes to the chemical ratios in the water, and I believe that adding arsenic and mercury to the water killed the fish.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been to the area to assess the damage and it has found alarming results. They have found many toxic chemicals in the water that lead to the contamination of the drinking supply. However these chemicals are found in such low doses that they are said to not be harmful to the people that drink it, so it passes EPA standards as safe drinking water. Many residents say that the water is thick and has a soupy-like consistancy. Sounds gross to me and I cannot believe that the EPA says that it is ok to drink.
Just recently the North Carolina Attorney General filed a complaint against the TVA because of air pollution. The plants were releasing a great deal of air pollution from their plants in Tennessee causing many adverse effects on the environment. This pollution has been linked to causing acid rain, smog, and regional haze’s that cause breathing problems for the residents of North Carolina. As a result of this the TVA has been ordered to clean up their plants, making the them more environmentally friendly to the surrounding populations.