For starters, fly ash is a residue from coal burning.
Fly ash contains trace concentrations of heavy metals and other substances that are known to be detrimental to health in sufficient quantities. Potentially toxic trace elements in coal include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, barium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, radium, selenium, thorium, uranium, vanadium, and zinc.Those are some pretty nasty elements you got going on right there. It always seemed to me that if the fly ash retainer failed the potential for groundwater contamination became pretty darn significant. No worries, according to the TVA as quoted in the article above. Maybe there is a wee bit of stuff in the water now, but nothing earth shattering. And if it is more than a wee bit, the treatment plants can filter out those pesky toxins. Drink away East Tennessee.
I never believed that company line and I know local residents didn't buy it either. Now an article from The Nation calls attention to the shady data generated by TVA following the fly ash spill. It is confirming a lot of what has been feared from the very beginning.
Mr. Moulton said Friday that the levels exceeded safety limits for drinking water, but that both metals were filtered out by water treatment processes.Mercury and arsenic, he said, were “barely detectable” in the samples.
New evidence indicates that in the wake of the disaster, the TVA may have intentionally collected water samples from clean spots in the Emory River, a major supplier of drinking water for nearby cities and a popular site for recreational activities such as swimming and fishing. Third-party tests have found high levels of toxins in the river water and in private wells, while the TVA has assured residents that tap water, well water and river water are safe.
In recent weeks, an inquiry in conjunction with The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund uncovered satellite positioning locations for the authority's water sampling stations inside a TVA dredging permit application. The data were pinpointed on aerial maps and shown to independent experts in an effort to determine whether the TVA skewed its choice of water sample sites.Donna Lisenby, a river monitor for Appalachian Voices, said the location data gave critics a smoking gun. "You can skew the data by putting testing points in odd locations, such as behind a sandbar or far upriver away from the spill," she said. "The GPS locations show that that is what the TVA has been doing." Bob Gadinski, a former hydrologist for the State of Pennsylvania, said that the TVA's use of only five testing locations was "too few."