Thursday, January 15, 2009


David Cook, Common Dreams - Just after midnight on December 22, our levees broke, and a man-made pond containing toxic ash - essentially the leftovers from the nearby coal-burning power plant - burst its walls, and more than one billion gallons of coal ash spilled into the Tennessee River and its tributaries.

The spill is 40 times larger than the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, and one of the greatest environmental disasters in our nation's history. . .

The Kingston coal power plant is one of the many energy plants owned and operated by the governmental agency known as the Tennessee Valley Authority. Created in the Roosevelt years as a source of employment and power for legions of poor folks in Appalachia, TVA continues to burn coal as a source of energy, and in the process, must dispose of the ash waste through retention ponds, not unlike aqua-landfills. A few years ago, studies suggested the Kingston retention pond needed updates, the most effective also being the most costly. TVA settled for the cheaper way out.

And then December 22, when the walls burst and the pond no longer was able to hold back the black ash.

And now, folks in eastern Tennessee are realizing with damning clarity what environmentalists have been saying for decades: there is no such thing as clean coal.