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Sun Nov 18, 2018, 04:41 PM

Just Doing Their Job -- And Now They're Dying For It

Just Doing Their Job — And Now They’re Dying For It

November 8, 2018


This is one of those horrific stories that you think must have come out of the 19th century or early 20th century.

Just before Christmas in 2008, a dike at the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant in Roane County, Tennessee, gave way, carrying away houses and smothering 300 acres of land under a billion gallons of coal ash slurry, a by-product of coal combustion to produce electricity. It was the nation’s worst coal ash spill.

Construction workers from East Tennessee and across the nation responded, but without any protection or training, despite the fact that coal ash contains “a concentrated stew of toxins, including arsenic, radioactive material, mercury and lead.”

Today, “more than 30 workers who cleaned up the December 2008 spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant in Roane County are dead, and more than 250 are sick or dying.”

This tragedy wasn’t an oversight on Jacobs’ part, nor a failure of workers to follow the rules, according to Knoxville News Sentinal’s Jamie Satterfield and an investigation by USA TODAY Network-Tennessee.
....

Interview With Journalist Jamie Satterfield About Workers Poisoned by Coal Ash

November 10, 2018

Knoxville News Sentinal’s Jamie Satterfield, the investigative reporter who has been following the story about cleanup workers who died and were sickened by their exposure to coal ash in the cleanup of the massive spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant in Tennessee, was interviewed yesterday on NPR’s All Things Considered.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Key paragraph:

What my investigation showed was that Jacobs Engineering, this firm that was put in charge of the cleanup, they not only did not tell the workers the danger of coal ash, they didn’t explain to them what was in it. And in fact, they lied to them. They told them that they could safely eat a pound of coal ash, which again is full of toxins, every day and be safe. That’s absurd. Even the American Coal Ash Association doesn’t make that claim. And they also – they pressured the EPA. The EPA wanted these workers in Tyvek suits and to have respiratory masks and other respiratory protection. And Jacobs and TVA pushed back on the EPA. And then later, as some of these workers started getting sick on the job site and began to question the safety of the coal ash, if they demanded respiratory protection, they were fired.

....

It is reporters like Jamie Satterfield, or Ken Ward at the Charleston Gazette-Mail, or Jim Morris at the Center for Public Integrity, or Audrey Dutton at the Idaho Statesman, or the team at the Tampa Bay Times, or organizations like ProPublica and the Center for Investigative Reporting that are — as pioneering medical researcher and advocate Irving Selikoff said — putting the tears back into the data.

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Reply Just Doing Their Job -- And Now They're Dying For It (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2018 OP
Sherman A1 Nov 2018 #1
NNadir Nov 2018 #2
Finishline42 Nov 2018 #3

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2018, 04:44 PM

1. Sad

and so preventable, but of course profits come first.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2018, 09:24 PM

2. As tragic as this is, the death toll is just a tiny fraction of what dangerous fossil fuels kill...

...during normal operations, even without an accident or unusual event.

This will rapidly go down the memory hole.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 19, 2018, 08:17 AM

3. Actually, this breach will have a lasting impact.

Prior to this catastrophic breach the risk was an educated guess. Insurance company actuaries would do their best to anticipate the cost to clean one up should it happen. Easy for higher ups to negotiate a lower number over dinner. But once they have a real event - TVA spent over a $1 billion and still didn't get it right as the OP points out - their is no drastically reduced cost for insurance.

BTW, there are over 400 of these containment ponds in the US. This breach added another nail in the coffin for coal.

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