Front Porch Blog

Injury reported as TVA waits for water test results

At least one man may have been hospitalized from drinking tained water along the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers near Watts Bar, witnesses said.

“We met a man who had been vomiting for the past 12 hours after drinking a couple of pots of coffee made from the tainted water,” said Matt Landon of United Mountain Defense, a Knoxville TN based environmental organization. “We advised him to go to the hospital.”

Members of United Mountain Defense also said TVA had been advising residents to boil water. This procedure would only concentrate heavy metals, experts noted. The UMD team traveled Tuesday to Harriman, TN to learn more first hand about the impacts of the coal ash pond failure.

Meanwhile, TVA waited for water test results before deciding what to do about the massive coal fly ash spill, creeping towards the confluence of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers near Kingston, TN. According to a New York Times story this morning, environmental officials are struggling to “assess the damage in hopes that water supplies were not harmed by heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic.”

Members of United Mountain Defense said TVA had been advising residents to boil water. This procedure would only concentrate heavy metals, experts noted. The UMD team traveled Tuesday to Harriman, TN to learn more first hand about the impacts of the coal ash pond failure. Matt Landon of UMD shared this report:

“We traveled on Swan Pond Rd visiting local residents and passing out information about the chemicals that may be present in the drinking water.

Begining at 3pm Dec 23, 2008 TVA officials began to visit all of the houses just prior to our visit advising residents to boil their drinking water before consuming it for the next 5 days.

Unfortunately TVA did not inform anyone about the reasons for needing to boil the water and any chemicals that may be present in their water. The city of Harriman was working 24 hours a day to install a new water pipe in order to provide these residents with cleaner water. Their current water source was a large spring which may have been contaminated by the spill.

We also met a man who had been vomitting for the past 12 hours after drinking a couple of pots of coffee made from the tainted water. We advised him to go to the hospital.

The media has been reporting that affected citizens were being housed in a local motel, but we met many citizens who had spent the last two nights without electricity or gas heat in 27 F weather. A source shared information that TVA knew that the coal ash dam had been leaking for months now. We visited approximately 40 households many of which had not recieved any information other than what they could figure out from the minute long television segments or an isolated phone call from the water or gas utility.

TVA police were limiting access to Swan Pond Rd as utility crews were actively working on the roadway. ”

Other news reports today included:

CNN: Tennessee Spill Runs over Homes and Water

WBIR TV Knoxville: Officials test sludge

Knoxville Sentinel: Mudslide closes Emory River

Associated Press — Dike bursts in Tennessee