Sunday, September 20, 2009

Earthbytes: Coal Ash Snow Down: Help Roane County Residents Challenge Test Burns

Swan Pond community residents need your help on Monday. TVA discharged a bunch of coal ash particles onto their community during a test burn of high sulfur coal on Friday.

Please see my blog at Earthbytes for more information and phone numbers for the offices of Sen. Yager, TDEC Commissioner Fyke and Gov. Bredesen.

(Coal ash coats a vehicle in the Swan Pond community. Randy Ellis photo.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Earthbytes: EPA Marks 79 Surface Coal Mines for Extended Review

The U.S. Environmental Agency has sent 79 mountaintop removal permits back to the drawing board! Read more and see useful links at my Earthbytes blog.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

09/08/2009: EPA Releases Survey Results on Coal Ash Impoundments

Release date: 09/08/2009

Contact Information: Latisha Petteway,, 202-564-3191, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making information publicly available from electric utilities on the management of coal combustion residuals contained in surface impoundments and similar management units. Following the coal ash spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility in Kingston, Tenn., EPA requested the information from electric utilities to inform an assessment of the structural integrity of the surface impoundments. The responses from electric utilities cover 584 units from 219 facilities.

In addition, EPA is conducting on-site assessments of the coal ash impoundments and ponds at electric utilities.
EPA will assess by the end of the calendar year all of the units that have a dam hazard potential rating of "high" or "significant" in the responses provided by electric utilities to EPA’s information request. The hazard potential rating refers to the potential for loss of life or damage if there is a dam failure. The ratings do not refer to the structural stability of the dam. Dams assigned the high hazard potential rating are those where failure or misoperation will probably cause loss of human life; dams assigned a significant hazard potential rating are those where failure will not probably cause loss of human life but can cause economic loss, environmental damage, or damage to infrastructure (for example, roads and bridges). The results of this effort will be posted on EPA’s Web site as final reports are completed.

The link given in the press release I got generated an error page. Go here and scroll down to the "responses from electric utilities" link.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

State report: Dangerous levels of selenium in water, fish near coal mines - Latest News -

State report: Dangerous levels of selenium in water, fish near coal mines - Latest News -

From the article:
"What makes us the maddest is that the division has had this information for a while now," said Judith Petersen of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance. "And they not even asking the coal industry to monitor for it."
State officials did not immediately respond to the charges.

The groups — the Sierra Club, the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, and the waterways group — said the state surveyed 13 sites in the region. At one mining site and one road cut, it found that water downstream exceeded state water quality standards. Other mining sites showed elevated levels.

I have this weird feeling about regulators and coal companies not wanting to be transparent about data on selenium and other toxic elements found in coal...I think it's a huge mess that's just coming to light. To prevent excess discharges or clean up what's already been dumped will require big bucks and a hard look at coal mining's cumulative impact on land, air and water resources.

UPDATE: here's another article with more links to background information, quotes and a view of the selenium issue in West Virginia...also, some interesting comments have been posted: