Coal sludge in Tennessee toxic spill 50x worse than Exxon Valdez spill

Last night, I was watching The Hour with George Strombolopoulos who interviewed the US environmental activist Erin Brokovich (yes, the one the movie with Julia Roberts is based on) who is now tackling along with the well-respected US law firm Weitz & Luxenberg the most horrific Tennessee environmental disaster of the release of a dam storing a coal fly ash from coal plants into the Tennessee River with a toxic spill 50x bigger than the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez in 1989 off the coast of Alaska.  

Owned and operated by the  Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal-fired power plant, this tragedy happened just before Christmas Day, while the rest of us were celebrating with families.  The concerns:  The toxic sludge spilled into the river; lack of media coverage of such a large environmental disaster by the media;  people’s homes and health, fish, river ecology are all affected.  

“My main objective in these cases is not legal, but to work with the community to build trust and help protect their health and safety,” said famed environmental advocate Erin Brockovich. “Many times, industry deceives us and government is absent. People are left standing in contamination with no help,” Brockovich added. “I know lawsuits can scare people, but these attorneys (W&L) seek justice, and in doing so, they uncover the truth.”

If you are interested in sitting back (and have a few minutes) to see a beautiful video about the before and after the spill produced by mgtillyer, it’s on YouTube.  It presents the before and after, and asks some good questions about the spill, its impacts, and about “clean coal”.  View it at: TVA Coal Ash – Before and After.

Sidenote: During Erin Brokovich’s conversation last night with George Strombolopoulos, she identified that a calculation had been made recently that if everyone turned off our TV’s using the power switch on the TV instead of turning off the TV with the remote (Which does not turn off the TV), that we would eliminate the need for the energy generated by one nuclear power plant.  Our conveniences consume energy at a rate that we are unaware of.  It is important to help manufacturers understand that our planet cannot sustain this level of convenience.  We can get up and turn off the TV!

The brave new world of the Internet is finally allowing us to become aware of problems, solutions, and ways to live more sustainably.  Bloggers, blog sites, videos, photos, and responsible journalistic coverage combined with accurate information, data and science will help all of us as we seek ways to keep “quality” in our lives, our homes, our landscapes, water and our planet.

There are small steps that each of us can take here in the Riding Mountains to nourish our lives, grow organic food in our gardens, support local producers, eat grassfed beef and lamb, reduce water consumption, be cautious about the chemicals we use, re-plant our lawns with perennial prairie plants that are drought tolerant, put solar panels on our roofs to reduce our energy demands on hydro power, and support the championship Clear Lake Golf Course by playing golf on one of the most environmentally friendly courses in North America.  Living sustainably is an act of planetary citizenship, in my view.