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A collapsed retaining wall spews millions of gallons of fly ash across the Tennessee valley


A disaster that occurred early Monday morning has ruined the holidays for some residents of Knoxville, Tennessee. A retaining wall at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston coal-fired power plant collapsed, spewing 2.6 million cubic yards of fly ash across Tennessee.

According to the TVA, 400 acres of land are submerged 6-feet deep in the toxic substance. The sludge that burst out of the holding pond for power plant waste ripped an entire home from its foundations and flooded 11 other homes in the area. In addition, a train was also heavily damaged.

"Protecting the public, our employees, and the environment is TVA's primary concern as we supply electric power for the people of Tennessee Valley region," said TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore. "We deeply regret that a retention wall for ash containment at our Kingston Fossil Plant failed, resulting in an ash slide and damage to nearby homes."

Fortunately, no injuries related to the disaster have been reported so far. However, the situation is expected to worsen. Fly ash is a highly toxic substance that contains mercury, lead, and arsenic. A report from last year also states that fly ash is more radioactive than nuclear waste.  

The toxic substance has begun seeping into the Emory River, which means the waste may ultimately end up flowing into the Tennessee River, contaminating ground and surface water. The TVA says that it will continue to sample water downstream for contamination. As a precaution, the TVA has attempted to manage the river flows in order to reduce risk of contamination.

The Kingston power plant generates 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. According to the TVA, this powers 670,000 homes. Despite the disaster, the plant is still online and operating.  

Repairs for the disaster will begin immediately, with hundreds of bulldozers, dump trucks and workers already in the area to clear out the debris.

Residents displaced by the disaster have been provided with hotel rooms, food and transportation.  Gas, electricity and water have been restored to homes in the area that did not incur any serious damage.

Aerial footage of the disaster has also been posted on YouTube.



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expect more of this
By lucyfek on 12/24/2008 7:20:07 PM , Rating: -1
our most popular president signed it into law recently




RE: expect more of this
By Etsp on 12/24/2008 7:28:14 PM , Rating: 5
Signed what into law recently? The a requirement for Coal Power plants to have walls collapse releasing massive amounts of fly ash into the environment? Some context of what you are talking about would help people to understand what you're saying....


RE: expect more of this
By zerocool84 on 12/24/2008 7:41:35 PM , Rating: 2
I lol'd at this. Anywho it does suck and I wonder since the article says it's more radioactive than nuclear waste if people will even be able to live there any more? It also said it seeped into the river which is extremely bad. Sucks for people in the region.


RE: expect more of this
By HVAC on 12/24/2008 8:05:05 PM , Rating: 5
It is human nature to find something to blame. There is no such thing as an accident anymore.

And for heavens sake we must lay the blame at the feet of the President. Let us conveniently forget the hundreds of senators and congresspersons busily pandering to whining constituencies, special interest groups, and their own fear and greed.

We get the leaders we deserve...


RE: expect more of this
By creathir on 12/24/2008 7:48:44 PM , Rating: 5
Oh yes, lets blame Bush for the collapse of the retaining wall. I suppose to be accurate, FDR should be blamed, as he setup the TVA.

I suppose you are refering to the bill signed by him (passed by your Democrat controlled congress mind you) to push for more nuclear and clean coal power plants?

What do you propose instead of coal or nuclear power? Wind? Solar? Neither of these can provide the power needed for the cost. Nuclear is the cleanest energy we could possibly use, but people such as yourself slam this energy as being harmful to the environment.

Ironically, you probably typed this message using power from a coal power plant.

Disasters happen. It is life. Wind turbines can explode. Plants that make solar panels can burn. It happens. The best we can do is be there to support those after a disaster, and build again, and move on.

My prayers are with those affected by this particular disaster. I love this area of the United States, and hate to see it ruined, but I do understand that all of those people who live there, would not have jobs if it were not for the power plants of the TVA.

- Creathir


RE: expect more of this
By mindless1 on 12/29/2008 1:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm. You wrote "Nuclear is the cleanest energy we could possibly use, but people such as yourself slam this energy as being harmful to the environment."

Have you gone mad or is it now sane to introduce an idea others did not express and attribute it to them in order to suit your argument?


RE: expect more of this
By retrospooty on 12/24/2008 8:46:00 PM , Rating: 4
" our most popular president signed it into law recently"

I hate Bush as much as the next guy, but I cant see how this is his fault...


RE: expect more of this
By tjr508 on 12/24/2008 11:25:31 PM , Rating: 2
I primarily blame global warming, with Bush only playing the supporting role.


RE: expect more of this
By mindless1 on 12/29/2008 1:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously you overlooked his connection to Kevin Bacon, thereby linking him with everyone's evil deeds.


RE: expect more of this
By kontorotsui on 12/26/2008 8:35:53 AM , Rating: 1
Sure, signed into law to collapse containement walls upon the people who didn-t vote for him.
And flooding them with black ash is surely a ironic punishment, now isn'it?


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 1:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
"In recent news: President-elect obama has gone to Tennessee to help oversee the clean-up of the coal dust spill. He asked if he could help direct the flow of the trucks hauling the material. When asked why he responded 'Because i love telling people to BACK THAT ASH UP! '"


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 4:39:27 PM , Rating: 2
"President-Elect obama was also at the scene acting as an inspector. After making observations he reported that the area has ' some really fine ASH ' and that, if possible, he would love ' to get a piece of that ASH ' but Mrs. Obama refused stating ' if he knows what was good for him he won't be bringing home any ASH he's been messing around with on the weekend ".


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 4:41:00 PM , Rating: 2
"Cities down river outraged state: ' Get your ASH outta here '"


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 4:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
"A TVA representative, rather uncouthly, said 'This DUMB ASH has made a real big mess, but we'll do everything we can to clean up it up.'"


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 4:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
"Greenpeace of Alabama was quick to respond to the disaster protesting and demanding that the TVA ' GET YOUR BLACK ASH OUT '"


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 5:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
"Locals in the area say it's never been pleasant living next to the plant. One local went on record to say 'It can really suck when the wind blows our way. The whole town smells like ASH. '"


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 5:06:21 PM , Rating: 2
"People across America are surprised by the accident, and when hearing about the size of the spill they all universally agree that Tenessee has "some really bigASH pools".


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 5:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
"The best meathod to clean up the spill is still being talked about. Some have suggested using a bunch of ASH-wipes , while others have suggested digging some really big ASH-holes. A decision is still pending."


RE: expect more of this
By ThePooBurner on 12/26/2008 5:12:24 PM , Rating: 2
"Entrepreneurs have been quick to cash in on the disaster selling souvenir ASH-hats and ASH-wads ."


RE: expect more of this
By andrinoaa on 12/27/2008 8:17:30 AM , Rating: 2
How about asking the people affected if they now approve of coal power or nuclar power in their new backyards. I can guess the response, more converts to "clean power". I guess the media will hype it up even more, loverly!


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