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Archive for the ‘Kingston Coal Ash Disaster’ Category

Oil Spill and BP - TVA coal fly ash redux?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Today my good friend Boyd Romines asked me if we will kill the planet in our lifetime.  I told him no.  We won’t kill it.  This is a pretty resilient place, but still no excuse for what we’re doing to it.

As the oil spill in the gulf unfolds to be truly a disaster of epic proportions, it remains to be seen how well this corporate giant stacks up to TVA’s response.  Hopefully, better, but the bar is set pretty low.

BP is a large corporation - TVA is a large corporation, when its convenient and a governmental entity when convenient.  BP has taken responsibility, but not the blame.  That’s an interesting approach.  TVA came out with high falutin’ language - “we’ll make you whole, and happy”.  I heard that one myself at a meeting in Kingston in January 2009.  BP has used far more reserved language. “We are determined to do everything in our power to contain this oil spill and resolve the situation as rapidly, safely and effectively as possible,”

The aggressive defense firm hasn’t show up yet, though there were reports in Alabama that BP was going around asking people to sign a form saying they wouldn’t sue in exchange for $5,000.  The company is no longer engaging in that activity.

I think the best thing BP did as ask for help.  I’m impressed that BP is mobilizing citizen forces to help clean up.  I’m impressed that they are trying new, untried technologies to clean up the oil spill.  So far, I’m pretty good with BP - compared to TVA, that is.

TVA did not publicly ask for help.   Many offers of help were rebuffed by TVA.  TCWN convened a group of experts in coal fly ash and selenium to offer help to TDEC with the clean up.  The goal here was to get expertise to the state to help them determine the best course of action for cleaning up the river with as little impact as possible.  We had what amounted to the most frustrating conversation with the State that left all of us wondering how the ignorance and arrogance of some state employees on that call was going to play out in the clean up.  In the end, neither the state nor TVA took any advice offered by these national experts.   It was “dredge baby, dredge”.  Then local legislators sponsored some of the worst legislation that would allow more selenium to enter Tennessee’s rivers by mining companies. Astounding!

There’s been plenty of criticism about the dispersants used by BP to break up the oil. The link I provided is an industry link, but I think it describes dispersants and how they work better than anything I’ve seen so far.  Frankly, beggars can’t be choosers.  We have got to clean this up.  Yes, dispersants introduce another pollutant to the gulf - but what are the other options? And I’m asking that legitimately.  Are there other less or non-toxic ways to reduce the oil in the gulf?  If anyone has ideas, ship ‘em over.

As to who’s gonna pay, well, it should be BP.  If they have to liquidate every asset they have and go out of business, they should be required to do so.  It will send the appropriate message.  I predict that we will discover that there were problems on that platform that went ignored or that there were problems with the type of drilling being performed.

The elephant in the room:  Folks, I say this where ever I speak and I get a lot of eyerolling but here goes.  Our high standard of living is driving environmental disasters.  We like to keep our homes heated at 75 and cooled at 60 and that requires the burning of fossil fuels or hydropower.  We want to drive EVERYWHERE and that requires fossil fuels.  We want to fly to exotic destinations and that requires a lot of fossil fuels.  We will not sustain this lifestyle on renewables. It’s a sobering truth.  We either retain this lifestyle and pay, because we will, for the clean up of coal fly ash, oil spills and countless other disasters in the making, or we ramp it down considerably and hope to live another day cleaner than the last.  I’m not pointing fingers. Believe me, I’m as guilty as the next person, but we have got to wake up to what we are doing to ourselves.  We are making the future unlivable for our children.


EPA discloses location of the 44 Hazardous coal ash sites

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

I see the O administration finally wised up and realized that not disclosing the location of the 44 sites was a) going back on his campaign promise; b) causing consternation for everyone living in the shadow of a Kingston-style disaster; and c) downright silly to think that terrorists would be going after those sites. Tennessee didn’t make the list.  I wonder if it was on the list before December 22, 2008?