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Toxic Coal Ash Contamination Found at Tennessee TVA Site

WASHINGTON -- Tennessee is among 10 states in which coal ash dump sites causing groundwater and soil contamination have been uncovered by the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).

EIP has also released a letter to Congress from thousands of residents near coal ash dump sites in 27 states pleading for proper federal oversight – even as some in Congress are urging that federal oversight to clean up toxic coal ash pollution be relaxed and authority to enforce meaningful standards be eliminated.

Nearly all (19 of 20) of the newly identified problem coal ash dump sites have contaminated groundwater with arsenic or other toxic metals exceeding at least one Safe Drinking Water Act Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) as well as other health-based standards.

The Allen Fossil Plant is one of sites named by EIP. The plant is located on the Mississippi River five miles southwest of downtown Memphis. Built in the 1950s by the Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Division, it was leased to TVA in 1965 and purchased by TVA in 1984.

Jeff Stant, director, Coal Combustion Waste Initiative, Environmental Integrity Project, said: "The 67 cases of coal ash water contamination identified by the EPA and the additional body 90 toxic sites found by EIP all point to one clear conclusion: Those in Congress who think this threat to groundwater and drinking water should go unmonitored, unpoliced and unaddressed are dead wrong. We already have here a clear and present danger to America's public health; it is no solution for Congress to hand authority for addressing the problem permanently to states that have refused to enforce common-sense standards for the past 30 years and hope that the whole problem then somehow goes away."

Arsenic has been measured above the federal drinking water standard (MCL) of 10 parts per billion at 14 sites of the 20 new sites.

All 19 sites with water contamination also had measured concentrations of toxic pollutants other than arsenic and other primary drinking water metals – such as boron, molybdenum, manganese, and nickel – above the limits EPA has recommended in health advisories for children or adults. In some cases, these pollutants were many times over permissible levels detailed in health advisories. For example, manganese was 203 times the lifetime health advisory at Paradise Station (KY), molybdenum was 21 times the lifetime health advisory at the Parish Station (TX) and boron was more than 12 times the child health advisory at Prairie Creek Station (IA) and 10 times the same advisory level at Meredosia Station (IL).

J. Russell Boulding, a hydrogeologist with Boulding Soil-Water Consulting, said: " Virtually every coal ash site that has adequate monitoring reveals substantive contamination of the underlying groundwater. All you have to do is look. Furthermore, in several cases, the data show the contamination is worsening the longer it continues."


Source: Environmental Integrity Project, Washington, DC

Published December 14, 2011, 9:03 p.m.

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