Magazine ranks ash spill with Love Canal

Magazine ranks ash spill with Love Canal

July 24th, 2009 by Pam Sohn in News


To see the Newsweek site, visit

The 2008 Kingston, Tenn., ash spill is among 10 "eco catastrophes" highlighted by Newsweek today on the magazine's Web site.

On the site, the ash spill falls at No. 4 -- behind eroding coastlines, the Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident and New York's Love Canal toxic waste discovery -- in a photo slide show dubbed "Eco catastrophes: The world's worst man-made environmental disasters."

The caption, with an aerial photograph of the ash spill from TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant, states there are more than 600 coal-fired power plants in the United States, all of which store the ash, usually in ponds or wet landfills.

"Accidents can be disastrous. In late December 2008, one of the holding tanks at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tenn., collapsed, spilling wet coal ash as far as the eye could see," the slide show caption states. "Several homes were destroyed, but longer lasting was the contamination of the local Tennessee River, killing wildlife and depositing high levels of mercury into the land and water."

Tennessee Valley Authority spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said the utility continues to monitor air and water in the spill area to ensure it meets standards set by the state and federal governments.

"TVA knows it is responsible for the accident," she said. "We're going to clean it up, and we're going to do it right."

But community activist Matt Landon with United Mountain Defense said the magazine's essay isn't tough enough.

"It's good that they show this, but they let TVA off the hook by not stating it was a Tennessee Valley Authority site," he said.

Mr. Landon said lumping the spill with the likes of Chernobyl "puts it in perspective."

"They stated over 600 of these coal plants across the country, and that's good exposure for the issue in general, but they could have written a better description," he said.