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Hundreds of workers fell ill after cleaning up America’s largest industrial disaster without proper gear. At least fifty have died. Twelve years later, they’re still waiting for help

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  1. spit-evil-olive-tips
    If this is paywalled/loginwalled for anyone, here's an alternate link: https://southerlymag.org/2020/08/17/they-deserve-to-be-heard-sick-and-dying-coal-ash-cleanup-workers-fight-for-their-lives/...

    If this is paywalled/loginwalled for anyone, here's an alternate link: https://southerlymag.org/2020/08/17/they-deserve-to-be-heard-sick-and-dying-coal-ash-cleanup-workers-fight-for-their-lives/

    Wikipedia page for extra background

    It's amazing to me that I hadn't heard of this spill before, or had heard of it but never really registered the true impact of it.

    Coal ash is the nation’s second-largest waste stream after household garbage, and it contains a slew of heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, mercury and lead, as well as radioactive materials such as uranium. There are over 1,400 coal ash sites across 45 US states and territories. For decades, the waste material has been dumped by utilities in unlined landfills or ponds, leaking into waterways and groundwater across the country.

    TVA’s Kingston fossil plant in Harriman, Tennessee, is no exception. Operating since 1955, Kingston still produces roughly 1,400 tons of ash each day. TVA’s CEO, Jeff Lyash, referred to the ash as 100 years of deferred costs. For decades, utilities and regulators did not address this growing problem. Then, around 1am on 22 December 2008, a six-story earthen dike burst at the Kingston plant, spewing over a billion gallons of coal ash mixed with water – roughly 150 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of thick, grey muck – across 300 acres, pummeling two dozen houses and choking nearby waterways. To date, it is the North American continent’s largest industrial spill, five times larger than the BP oil spill.

    2 votes