Happy holidays?

For a morbid holiday image here’s a photograph by J. Miles Carey of the Knoxville News Sentinel which accompanied December 25’s NYT story by Shaila Dewan, “Coal Ash Spill Revives Issue of Its Hazards.” Note the wreath. Another along the same theme, but a closeup showing a mixture of fly ash and mud on the side of Perry James’ home decked in wreath and pine garland is here. Other photos are at the paper’s gallery here.

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December 22, 2.6 million cubic yards (the equivalent of 525.2 million gallons, 48 times more than the Exxon Valdez spill by volume) of coal ash sludge ruptured a dike of a 40-acre holding pond at TVA’s Kingston coal-fired power plant covering 400 acres up to six feet deep, damaging 12 homes and wrecking a train.Here’s a video of the initial news conference.

According to the EPA the cleanup will take at least several weeks, but could take years. Officials also said that the magnitude of this spill is such that the entire area could be declared a federal superfund site.

It was good to see the national coverage of the fly ash spill in Tennessee in today’s NYT. In the case of Martin County, the NYT first reported on the October 11, 2000 sludge spill was also on Christmas, with Peter T. Kilborn’s story, A Torrent of Sludge Muddies a Town’s Future. Five years later, things looked normal, but they were not. And yet, because of the whitewash demanded of Jack Spadaro which cost him his job, no one prevailed in court. (See the bottom of this post, which also contains a chronology of national coverage). Pretty bad when The New River Free Press, a Blacksburg all-volunteer alternative monthly, can scoop the paper of record (and just about everyone but the AP and the local KY papers.

And this was actually the second story by the writer. The first, “Water Supplies Tested After Tennessee Spill,” was published December 24.

On a lighter side, for my favorite holiday image, take a gander at David Horsey‘s cartoon from December 23.

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