Thursday, July 30, 2009

EPA allows TVA to dump spilled coal ash in Alabama:

Leo Francendese, On-Scene EPA Emergency Response Coordinator, views task ahead of removing over three million cubic yards of fly ash from Emory River at Kingston, TN. TVA plant.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- "The nation's largest utility can dump millions of tons of coal ash from a Tennessee spill into an Alabama landfill, federal regulators said, despite criticism that the plan is unfair to one of Alabama's poorest counties.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it would let the Tennessee Valley Authority ship dredged material about 300 miles from the site of a huge retention pond failure in eastern Tennessee to the Arrowhead Landfill in central Alabama's Perry County.

EPA said the commercial landfill that most often receives household garbage is well-suited for accepting the ash, which contains toxic materials including arsenic and lead.

TVA said the shipments, which will go by rail, would begin immediately.

A rail line runs from Tennessee through northeast Alabama to Arrowhead Landfill near Uniontown. Operators say it's one of the nation's largest commercial landfills.

Perry County will make millions of dollars off the shipments from dumping fees, and TVA has said as many as 50 jobs could be created to handle the shipments at the landfill, which now has five full-time employees.

Uniontown has about 1,600 residents, 88 percent of whom are black. U.S. Census statistics show 31 percent of families live in poverty.

"We still feel that there are elements that seem like an injustice to the people of Perry County," said Michael Churchman, executive director of the Alabama Environmental Council. "The benefits of the new jobs and increased income to families in that county is not as significant as it's being portrayed to be."

"The landfill is permitted to accept waste materials such as coal ash and has the capacity to accommodate the anticipated volume of material," EPA said in a statement.

About 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash was released in all, but TVA hasn't said what it plans to do with the rest. The utility said it was looking for sites other than the Perry County landfill, which typically accepts household garbage.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has given TVA permission to conduct coal ash disposal tests at four landfills in East Tennessee, but a TVA spokesmen said the agency has no current plans to do so.

TVA's disposal plan said it would initially send 85 loaded railcars every two days to Alabama, and shipments of the same size would become daily within weeks. The disposal could take a year." Associated Press, Jay Reeves.

New rail construction at TVA, Kingston, TN to transport over three million cubic yards of fly ash which will be dredged from the Emory River and shipped by rail car for disposal in Alabama.

be strong, be safe, Carlan


  1. Carlan,

    I tried many times to find the words to write here regarding the photos posted with this story. I was so struck by how I felt while viewing them.. I can only say that I found myself speechless... and awed. As a member of this community I have found that you are on person that can capture images that give insight into this devistating event that happened in my neighborhood. Thank you for giving of yourself, and sharing with the world.
    Love & Peace

  2. Thank you Penny. The scale of this incident is yet to be fully understood. I will continue to work through my photographs to show the true story of the social and environmental impact of this situation.
    be strong, be safe, Carlan

  3. Hasn't a documentary been done on this?
    Keep up your good work, Carlan.
    I won a state award for my college newspaper on an environmental story I wrote. Trust me, I know how seemingly unsurmountable this can be.

  4. Well, Carlan, I was appalled at this story when you first posted it in July, but your update tells me that the situation is even more pernicious.What is the EPA thinking?! That the people in Alabama will be quietly poisoned since they are not articulate and organized? Here is your role again, as was the case with the Navajo community, to give them a Voice. I am so glad you are doing exactly that. Good luck and be careful. LM