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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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RE: Highly Toxic?
By ttowntom on 12/24/2008 11:04:42 PM , Rating: 1
It's just burnt coal. You could eat a pound of it and not get anything but an upset stomach.

RE: Highly Toxic?
By mpeny on 12/25/2008 1:16:13 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, it is not toxic like a chemical spill but they can contain heavy metals which is the least is cause breathing problems - at worst cancer.

They need to test the site. It is yet to be determined either way.
Also, it will not be cheap to clean this up and pay families that have lost their homes under the dump.

RE: Highly Toxic?
By mars777 on 12/25/2008 1:32:29 AM , Rating: 2
Eat yes, but try to inhale...

RE: Highly Toxic?
By SandmanWN on 12/29/2008 9:20:55 AM , Rating: 3
inhale sludge?

RE: Highly Toxic?
By Marduke on 12/29/2008 10:48:49 AM , Rating: 2
sludge drys out in the sun.

RE: Highly Toxic?
By SandmanWN on 12/29/2008 2:23:45 PM , Rating: 1
Be nice if we had sun but its the middle of winter. The area in question is overly saturated with water currently which is one of the possible causes for the dikes failure.

Granted this could be a problem if it happened during the summer. The timing was just right that there may be near zero impact.

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