More pollutants and carcinogens were dumped into waterways near the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston, Tenn., plant in 2008 than were released to waterways by the entire U.S. power industry in 2007, according to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency. The report showed as much as 140,000 pounds of arsenic and nearly 60,000 pounds of metals poured into the Emory River, which runs near the plant.
The report was released ahead of congressional hearings this week on the coal ash spill in Kingston that occurred last year. That spill dumped about 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash on to 300 acres of rural land and into nearby waterways, and prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the safety of coal ash and the facilities that store the waste.
Recent studies have shown coal ash contains dangerous toxins that have been linked to serious health concerns such as cancer, liver damage and neurological complications. One study from Duke University suggests that exposure to fly ash and the contaminated river sediment could pose health risks to local communities as well as wildlife.
Officials from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation say they will continue to monitor the TVA’s cleanup of the land, which will take an estimated three years and will cost upwards of $1 billion. The organization also says that while the spill has displaced homeowners, damaged property and contaminated waterways, tests on municipal water supplies have been ruled safe.