A muddy and toxic Christmas in Tennessee

So you thought the Valdez oil spill was bad as far as damage to the environment was concerned eh. well it has nothing with the disaster that struck Tennessee on Monday night as 2.6 million cubic yards (equivalent to 525.2 million gallons) of toxic coal sludge broke through a dike of a 40-acre holding pond. The spill at TVA’s Kingston coal-fired power plant covered some 400 acres up to a depth of six feet. In the process it damaged 12 homes and wrecked a train.

According to the EPA the clean could take a minimum of several weeks or could last as long as several years. While there is concern about the immediate damage their is also the issue of what toxic substances are a part of the sludge. It is said to possibly contain any; or all of the following: Mercury, lead, beryllium and cadmium to name a few.

Although officials said they couldn’t determine the amounts of these toxins in the sludge the effects on humans could range on the low end to skin irritation or trigger allergies right through to longer term effects of cancer or neurological problems. The big concern is what the effect to the Emory River this sludge will have. The Emory is a tributary of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers both of which provide the primary water supply to much of Tennessee.

You can read more about it here at: The Tennessean or Greenpeace – or you can watch the video below.

[hat tip to Treehugger]
[top picture courtesy of The Tennessean]