Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Obama hides the high hazard sites from us … here are some of them

In the aftermath of last December’s the massive coal ash slurry spill in Tennessee, EPA conducted a study that identified 44 coal ash storage ponds in 26 communities it considers a high hazard. As EPA was readying the report for release, the Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to the EPA telling them the locations of the sites should not be made public for national security reasons. According to Time, the letter stated: The 44 sites were ranked as high hazards, meaning they could cause death and significant property damage if a storm, a terrorist attack or a structural failure caused them to spill into surrounding neighborhoods. What is unusual is it doesn’t take a genius to figure which sites are vulnerable to damaging massive spills, whether natural or man-made. They’re the ones close to the water’s edge, just like the one that recently failed. You would think it would be in the best interests of the government to keep the “surrounding neighborhoods” appraised of the threat, but apparently not. What is also unusual is a significant number of these hazard sites are owned and operated by the Federal government, namely the Tennessee Valley Authority. Is this a conflict of interest? Should one arm of government not point up the failures of another arm? Will EPA enforce regulations with equal vigor against government owned TVA as it would a privately owned utility? This is a question we will likely see more of with the Obama administration. Here are the facts. TVA operates 11 coal plants. Of the 11, 6 store their coal ash in wet form (as a slurry) and 5 in dry. The EPA study identifies the high hazards as those using ponds, the wet form. Of the 6 with wet storage (including Kingston, site of the spill), 5 have ponds within 600 feet of river or stream, likely to be “high hazard. Here they are: Allen Fossil Plant, 5 miles SW of Memphis TN Gallatin Fossil Plant, NE of Nashville TN Johnsonville Fossil Plant, near Waverly TN Kingston Fossil Plant, near Kingston TN Widows Creek, on Guntersville Reservoir AL Here are satellite shots:

No comments: