update: tennessee coal ash disaster

Thanks to Dave Cooper at Huffington Post:
Tennessee’s Toxic Nightmare: Arsenic Levels 35 to 300 Times EPA Standard for Drinking Water
Just-released independent water sampling data from the Tennessee coal ash disaster has shown alarmingly high levels of arsenic and seven other heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and thallium.

“I’ve never seen levels this high,” said Dr. Shea Tuberty, Assistant Professor of Biology at the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Lab at Appalachian State University. “These levels would knock out fish reproduction … the ecosystems around Kingston and Harriman are going to be in trouble … maybe for generations.”

“Although these results are preliminary, we want to release them because of the public health concern and because we believe the TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority] and EPA aren’t being candid,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chair of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Arsenic levels were especially worrisome. “From the water samples you gave us, we had anywhere from 35 to 300 times that [EPA] level” of 10 parts per billion for drinking water, said Tuberty to Upper Watauga Riverkeeper Donna Lisenby, who floated a kayak around the “ashbergs” on Decmber 27, five days after the disaster.

After testing for presence of 17 elements that are regulated by the EPA for drinking water, the Appalachian State University team of Tuberty and Dr. Carol Baybak found that the three water samples and one sediment sample provided by volunteers from the Waterkeeper Alliance and Appalachian Voices showed that “eight of them popped out as significantly higher than they should have been for drinking water.”

The test data can be found here.

Meanwhile, the TVA continues to stall and delay releasing their water sampling data. TVA, which continues to refer to the disaster as a mere “ash slide,” states that “information regarding air quality and water quality has already been published.” Clicking the link provided by TVA for “water sample data” directs readers to data that was taken at the city of Kingston Water intake on Dec 22 and 23, the day of the disaster, and before the material started to migrate downstream. TVA does not provide any updated water sampling data on their website.