Under the City of Memphis lies an enormous aquifer
that supplies clean drinking water to the area’s residents. Actually, there are two aquifers: a shallow one called the alluvial aquifer and a deeper one called the Memphis Sands.
The deeper one supplies the drinking water to city residents. And a good thing that is, too, because the shallow one just made the “Top 10” list for contaminated groundwater near a coal-fired power plant. The shallow-aquifer water contained four times the safe level of lead and – are you ready? – 350 times the safe level of arsenic.
Let me emphasize that no contamination has been reported in the drinking water’s source aquifer. But I should add a “yet” to the end of that statement.
There is a clay “barrier” separating the two aquifers that is believed to have prevented the cross-contamination. That’s why TVA insists its coal ash does not pose a threat to the drinking water.
But the USGS recently issued a report that said the barrier is not continuous and therefore could allow contaminants from the upper aquifer to migrate downward and contaminate the one used for drinking water. What now? Wait and see?
This is not a wait-and-see situation. These coal ash storage sites have been leaching many types of contaminants like arsenic and mercury into Tennessee’s water for decades. Clean-up workers from the Kingston coal ash spill know first-hand the suffering that comes from exposure to these toxic substances.
It’s reported that 9 out of 10 coal ash storage sites are contaminating groundwater. Several are in Tennessee.
TVA must clean up its mess (our water). Its coal ash needs
to be removed from leaking pits and ponds into an enclosure that has been engineered to prevent contamination.
Kathy Hawes, Executive Director
P.S. - Did you know that TVA’s CEO is the highest-paid government employee at over $8 million a year?