Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's not like it's toxic or anything.

I'm having trouble with this notion of studying water. As I am writing, a video of the coal slide in TN is playing -- so the sound of a helicopter is thrumming in the background.

I suppose really the idea is to understand something elemental...
to understand, too, our treatment...

Published: December 24, 2008

KINGSTON, Tenn. — What may be the nation’s largest spill of coal ash lay thick and largely untouched over hundreds of acres of land and waterways Wednesday after a dam broke this week, as officials and environmentalists argued over its potential toxicity.


The Tennessee Valley Authority has issued no warnings about the potential chemical dangers of the spill, saying there was as yet no evidence of toxic substances. “Most of that material is inert,” said Gilbert Francis Jr., a spokesman for the authority. “It does have some heavy metals within it, but it’s not toxic or anything.”

Mr. Francis said contaminants in water samples taken near the spill site and at the intake for the town of Kingston, six miles downstream, were within acceptable levels.

But a draft report last year by the federal Environmental Protection Agency found that fly ash, a byproduct of the burning of coal to produce electricity, does contain significant amounts of carcinogens and retains the heavy metal present in coal in far higher concentrations. The report found that the concentrations of arsenic to which people might be exposed through drinking water contaminated by fly ash could increase cancer risks several hundredfold.

J. Miles Carey/Knoxville News Sentinel, via Associated Press

For the past year I have often been baffled by the lack of common sense involved in conversations.

it isn't toxic or anything...

There are reasons to live in proximity to toxicity -- but not to deny it...

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