Exposure To Ash From TVA Spill Could Have ‘Severe Health Implications’

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ScienceDaily (Feb. 3, 2009) — A report by Duke University scientists who analyzed water and ash samples from last month’s coal sludge spill in eastern Tennessee concludes that “exposure to radium- and arsenic-containing particulates in the ash could have severe health implications” in the affected areas.

“Our radioactive measurements of solid ash samples from Tennessee suggests the ash has radiation levels above those reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for typical coal ash,” said Avner Vengosh, associate professor of earth and ocean sciences at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “Preventing the formation of airborne particulate matter from the ash that was released to the environment seems essential for reducing possible health impacts.”

More than a billion gallons of sludge coal waste spilled from a holding facility at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal-burning power plant on Dec. 22. The ash-laden waste flooded more than 400 surrounding acres and spilled into a tributary of the Emory River, which converges with the Clinch River and flows into the Tennessee River, a major source of drinking water for many communities in the region. The spill was so large it partly dammed the tributary of the Emory River, turning it into a standing pond.



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