Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Heavy Metal Christmas

One thing to keep in mind, readers: this is the same government that said New York was safe after 9/11.

Think they aren't capable of lying to you? Ask a sick 9/11 hero who can't breath anymore.

Tennessee's Chilly China Syndrome

"Officials debate risk from Tenn. coal ash spill; Breach in dike released sludge; residents alarmed" by Shaila Dewan, New York Times | December 25, 2008

KINGSTON, Tenn. - What may be the nation's largest spill of coal ash lay thick and largely untouched over hundreds of acres of land and waterways yesterday after a dam broke earlier this week, as officials and environmentalists argued over its potential toxicity.

Federal studies have long shown coal ash to contain significant quantities of heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems. But with no official word on the dangers of the sludge in Tennessee, displaced residents spent Christmas Eve worried about their health and their property and wondering what to do.

The spill took place at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a Tennessee Valley Authority generating plant about 40 miles west of Knoxville on the banks of the Emory River, which feeds into the Clinch and then the Tennessee River just downstream.

"They're giving their apologies, which don't mean very much," said Holly Schean, a waitress whose home, which she shared with her parents, had been swept off its foundation when millions of cubic yards of ash breached a retaining wall early Monday morning. The TVA has not yet declared the house uninhabitable, she said. "I don't need your apologies," she added. "I need information."

Even as the TVA downplayed the risks, the spill reignited a debate over whether the federal government should regulate coal ash as a hazardous material. Similar ponds and mounds of ash exist at hundreds of coal plants around the nation.

The TVA has issued no warnings about the potential chemical dangers of the spill, saying there was as yet no evidence of toxins. "Most of that material is inert," said Gilbert Francis Jr., a TVA spokesman. "It does have some heavy metals within it, but it's not toxic or anything."

Sure, yup, right. How could it not be, readers?

Francis said that contaminants in water samples taken near the spill site and at the intake for the town of Kingston, six miles downstream, were within acceptable levels.

Oh, well, government says it so it must be true.


But a draft report last year by the Environmental Protection Agency found that fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal to produce electricity, does contain significant amounts of carcinogens and retains the heavy metal present in coal in far higher concentrations.

But it's safe. Maybe the government pukes wouldn't mind eating a few handfuls of mud then, huh?

The report found that the concentrations of arsenic to which people might be exposed through drinking water contaminated by fly ash could increase cancer risks several hundredfold.

Hey, gov't puke! I gotta big glass of water for you!

The breach occurred when an earthen dike, the only thing separating millions of cubic yards of ash from the river, gave way, regurgitating a glossy sea of muck, four to six feet thick, dotted with icebergs of ash across the landscape. Environmentalists pointed to the accident as proof of their long-held assertion that there is no such thing as "clean coal."

For once I'm with the enviros!!! Let's get sun and wind going, huh?


And if you think it is only tennessee that is poisoned, guess again!

RANDSBURG, Calif. - Heaps of toxic mine waste rise like steeples over this wind-swept desert town, threatening the health of residents and off-road bikers.

Tests on dust samples have revealed some of the highest arsenic levels in the country - as much as 460,000 times the level deemed safe by the federal government.

That can't be good.

But although the poison can cause cancer in people and harm wildlife, little has been done to remove the waste here or similar hazardous waste at thousands of other abandoned mines around the nation. The Bureau of Land Management said it is moving to address the problem, but the costs are expected to be high.

TRILLIONS for WARS and BANKS, etc.... so HOW MUCH is this going to cost?

"Worst-case scenario, we'll have to clean up everything, which could do more environmental damage than leaving it and monitoring it," said Richard Forester, who oversees the Rand Mining District cleanup for the BLM.

Translation: We are f***ed!

Forester and others worry that particles of arsenic scattered by the area's stiff wind could be slowly poisoning the estimated 300 residents of Randsburg, Johannesburg, and Red Mountain.

The dozens of old gold and silver mines in the sparsely populated area about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles are among the estimated 500,000 abandoned mines nationwide that have been largely ignored because of their remote locations.

In recent years, however, development has crept closer and off-roaders in search of open spaces have descended on many of the sites. A federal audit released in July said the problem was not being effectively dealt with by the BLM....

Money is the biggest obstacle to a cleanup. The cost of cleaning up all the nation's abandoned mines could reach $72 billion.

That's IT? That's what, a YEAR of OCCUPYING IRAQ?

I'd rather CLEAN UP the EARTH, thank you -- you know, the REAL ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS!!!