June 17, 2009

44 toxic coal ash spills to be hidden from the public

Knowing if there is a toxic coal ash spill down the road from you is imperative...wouldn't you agree? This last year a massive coal ash spill occurred in Tennessee, which the TVA is currently trying wipe up. (There was an article previously blogged, click here to see it). Because we know of Tennessee's spill from this last winter, we are able to investigate and develop renewable technology and policies. If we are aware of our utilities' unhealthy behaviors, we will have a drive to change and invest in healthier alternatives and actually spur economic growth. We are not "protected" by our leaders attempts to lie by omission. Leaders arguing for censoring the know-abouts of these 44 toxic coal ash spills, argue under a homeland security rational, saying that if an outside threat knows of the spills, the spills could be taken advantage of to jeopardize the state of the nation. Well, as citizens of the United States, we are entitled to know of our own security, and for instance, I mean by knowing whether or not I can eat the fish from a local river without getting mercury poisoning due to coal ash spillage. Environmental security is essential to moving forward in the world of renewable energy and energy efficiency, which of course guarantees awareness. Such Senators as Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), quoted and referred to in the article below, are working to ensure our awareness of such toxic coal ash spills throughout the nation. Knowing of our utilities' behaviors is essential -- we cannot turn our heads the other way. We need to keep South Carolina and the nation at our heart's interest. To see more information on energy justice regarding coal ash, click here.

The Huffington Post
Coal Ash Spills Too Dangerous To Reveal To Public, Says DHS (Video)
Ryan Grimm
June 12, 2009

Just how bad has the coal ash situation gotten in the United States? So bad that the Department of Homeland Security has told Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that her committee can't publicly disclose the location of coal ash dumps across the country.

The pollution is so toxic, so dangerous, that an enemy of the United States -- or a storm or some other disrupting event -- could easily cause them to spill out and lay waste to any area nearby.

There are 44 sites deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency to be high hazard, but Boxer said she isn't allowed to talk about them other than to senators in the states affected. "There is a huge muzzle on me and my staff," she said.

"Homeland Security and the Army Corps [of Engineers] have decided in the interests of national security they can't make these sites known," she said.

There are several hundred coal ash piles across the nation, she said, all of them unregulated.

"If these coal ash piles were to fail they'd pose a threat to the people nearby," she said. While keeping it from the public, DHS is alerting first responders as to the location of the piles.

"I believe it is essential to let people know," said Boxer, arguing that if people knew what was in their backyard they'd press public officials to clean it up and protect the area. "I think secrecy might lead to inaction...I am pressing on this."

Boxer is sending a letter, she told reporters Friday, to DHS and the Army Corps, pressing for public release of the information and asking for a more thorough explanation and a comparison of this policy of secrecy to policies around Superfund-listed sites and nuclear sites.

"We don't need legislation if they do their job," she said.

A recent coal ash spill in Tennessee devastated the surrounding area, was 100 times worse than the Exxon-Valdez spill, said Boxer, and will cost a billion dollars to clean up.

That one's not secret.

To read the article, click here

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