Utne Blogs > Environment

Environmental Destruction May Be Masked by Tennessee Valley Authority

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Environment, Tennessee Valley Authority, coal,

TVA House Flooded EnvironmentLast year, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) made headlines when a coal slurry retention pond collapsed into Tennessee's Emory River. The full impact of that catastrophe remains a mystery, according to Kelly Hearn of the Nation, because the TVA may have manipulated data to hide the extent of the environmental destruction.

When the retention pond collapsed, millions of cubic yards of mud, contaminated by waste from a nearby coal plant, spilled out into a nearby neighborhood and into the Emory River. The river is a major supplier of drinking water for the area, and some locals have reported a gray film appearing in their tap water. Residents have also reported a burning sensation after showering, and the Tennessee state health department has stated that a third of local residents are reporting breathing problems.

The TVA, however, insists that the river water is safe. Hearn reports that an investigation by the Nation revealed that the TVA may have manipulated tests on the river by intentionally testing water behind sandbars or upriver from the spill. Independent investigations from the United Mountain Defense and the Environmental Integrity Project have found that “water quality criteria for arsenic, lead, selenium, cadmium and copper had all been violated and that drinking water standards had been exceeded not only for arsenic but also for antimony, beryllium and lead—which are toxic at certain doses”

Image of a house flooded in the retention pond collapse.

 SourceThe Nation