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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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roll on nuclear
By MadMan007 on 12/25/2008 4:36:47 AM , Rating: 2
This type of accident and the impact just from mining coal makes nuclear all that more attractive. The only two nuclear accidents were caused either through poor design (Chernobyl - massive impact) or human intervention mucking up the automated safety systems (Three Mile Island - minor impact) Unfortunately most people are too stupid to realize how safe nuclear is, especially recent reactor designs. *sigh*

Too bad the coal lobbies are so powerful and money talks. Here's a neat tidbit - the Capital Power plant is coal-fired. The operations manager wanted to convert it to Nat Gas and update it generally, it's about 100 years old. He was stopped by Senators from coal states through extortion by threatening to cut his budget.




RE: roll on nuclear
By AlexWade on 12/25/2008 8:58:00 AM , Rating: 1
While I fully support expanding our nuclear power plants, one thing you must remember is many of the people who live in Appalachia depend on coal. Already that area is full of poverty; just imagine how much so if you take away lots of jobs. Of course, more poverty means more drain on society because of the government services. Quite frankly, it is a lose-lose situation. But you always lose less when you put people first.


RE: roll on nuclear
By lco45 on 12/26/2008 12:03:14 AM , Rating: 2
People should move if there's no work.
This really annoys me. Here in Australia we have a state called Tasmania, which is one of the most natural and beautiful places left on earth, like New Zealand.
The logging companies are busy chopping down all the trees, but the irony is that they are losing money doing it, so the government is subsidizing them to keep cutting down the trees, to keep people employed on the end of their chainsaws.
Luke


RE: roll on nuclear
By BansheeX on 12/26/2008 8:58:47 AM , Rating: 3
Consider the fact that as jobs become obsolete, such as people employed in the 1800s making buggy whips or picking cotton, capital reallocates on its own and new jobs are created elsewhere where production is still needed. You act like we need to save people's jobs no matter what to prevent the terrible scourge of temporary joblessness. That the second a buggy whip maker loses his job, its a terrible thing for the economy as he can perform no other function and is screwed forever. You're out of your mind, you need to go back to school and learn how the free market works.


RE: roll on nuclear
By mindless1 on 12/29/2008 1:09:41 PM , Rating: 2
If you think a gradual reduction in buggy whip demand during an era when people were far more self-sufficient equates to thousands of already impoverished people suddenly being out of work simultaneously in an era where automation and technology make the unskilled worker pool already excessive beyond demand, you really don't have a clue.


RE: roll on nuclear
By Marduke on 12/29/2008 1:45:02 PM , Rating: 2
And what is keeping them unskilled? Not learning a new skill is their problem. Learning is free, and available to anyone.


RE: roll on nuclear
By mindless1 on 12/30/2008 2:53:21 AM , Rating: 2
What a load of nonsense. Learning is not free, the tuition at any decent university is proof enough. Are you saying you can just read books at a library? If so, good luck with that delusional attempt at getting a job based on "I read books at the library" on your resume.

Further, the fact is, it's not available to anyone. In REAL LIFE, low wage earners have to spend the majority of their time just working to pay bills, no time, letalone money, left to meet your overly simplified nonsense.


RE: roll on nuclear
By Shining Arcanine on 12/28/2008 4:42:49 AM , Rating: 2
No one would be taking any jobs away. How could one take jobs away that were never truly there?


RE: roll on nuclear
By mindless1 on 12/29/2008 1:11:43 PM , Rating: 2
They do work, get paid. It seems to me that if that's not a job that's truely there, your definition of reality fails.


RE: roll on nuclear
By PitViper007 on 12/26/2008 12:34:53 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, you missed a pretty nasty nuclear disaster, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory one. It was an experimental Sodium cooled Nuclear plant, so maybe you don't consider it as worth noting, but it was an active commercial plant, feeding approximately 1100 homes, that had a partial meltdown. As it was considered the US's first commercial nuclear power plant, I think it's worth noting.

http://www.energy.ca.gov/nuclear/california.html

Don't take this that I'm against nuclear power by any means. I think with today's technology, it's probably one of the safest and most abundant power sources we could possibly have. I'm just posting this to show there were other disasters as well.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997











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