From the Associated Press
The Environmental Protection Agency has released data showing levels of arsenic
more than 100 times safe levels in the water after a coal ash spill that flooded an East Tennessee neighborhood.
The EPA has said that sediment and water samples from near the spill were above federal maximum levels for contaminants. The data released Friday showed total arsenic levels in one water sample was 149 times the maximum level.
And from The New York Times
An environmental advocacy group’s tests of river water and ash near the site of a huge coal ash spill in East Tennessee showed levels of arsenic, lead
and other metals
at 2 to 300 times higher than drinking water standards, the group said Thursday.
The findings far exceed levels reported by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency or the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Those agencies have reported elevated levels of thallium
, lead and arsenic found near the spill but have not released the full results of those tests.
The T.V.A. and the state have released only the results of tests on water sampled from the Tennessee River just after the spill at a spot six miles away and upstream of the ash flow, which showed that the water at that spot met drinking standards.
The ash spill occurred Dec. 22 when an earthen dike at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a T.V.A. coal utility, gave way, spreading a billion gallons of wet coal ash, known to contain heavy metals, across about 300 acres and into tributaries of the Tennessee River.
The independent test results were released by Appalachian Voices, an environmental advocacy group based in Boone, N.C. The tests were conducted using standard E.P.A. methods, said Dr. Shea Tuberty, an environmental toxicologist at Appalachian State University who helped analyze the results.
Paul E. Davis, the director of water pollution control for the Tennessee environmental department, said he would have his staff compare the results of the tests with other sample results. “If the work that Appalachian State has done indicates that there’s been a violation, we’re very interested,” Mr. Davis said.
Appalachian Voices sampled water from three locations — near the spill site, about half a mile downstream and about two miles downstream — and found eight metals that exceeded drinking water limits. At the two-mile point, arsenic was at a level 35 times the drinking water limit. The group also expressed concern that standards for fish and aquatic life, which are stricter than drinking water standards, in part because heavy metals accumulate in animal tissue over time, had been exceeded.
“These are some of the most astonishing water-quality sampling results I’ve ever seen in my 10 years of working on rivers,” said Donna Lisenby, a spokeswoman for Appalachian Voices who helped collect the samples.
A news release from the group included a statement by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of the national Waterkeeper Alliance, who said, “Although these results are preliminary, we want to release them because of the public health concern and because we believe the T.V.A. and E.P.A. aren’t being candid.”
Jim Allen, a spokesman for the power authority, said, “T.V.A. has every confidence in the integrity of its sampling methodologies as well as those of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency. T.V.A. also is obtaining independent sampling.”
Mr. Allen said he could not say why the agency had not released the full results of the samples that had been tested thus far.
Laura Niles, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said she was waiting for results to release to the public. “I’m getting that question daily, believe me,” Ms. Niles said.