(865) 522-7007CONTACT

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Our Press Room features TCWN press releases and other media coverage highlighting issues relevant to the mission of the organization.

 

To obtain comments, quotes and interviews from TCWN contact:

 

Renee Hoyos, Executive Director
Office: 865.522.7007 x100
Cell: 865.607.6618
Email: [email protected]

 

 

Click here for all of TCWN's press coverage

Register Now For TCWN's Knoxville Dragon Boat Race To Qualify For Early Bird Discount - July 2, 2015

FOR IMMEDAITE RELEASE

Register Now For DDDPR To Take Advantage of Early Bird Discounts

July 2, 2015 – Act now as the July 15 deadline for the Downtown Dragon, Drum, and Paddle Dragon Boat Race (DDDPR) early bird discounts is quickly approaching. 

The early bird registration fee is $1,000 for corporate team and $850 for teams from non-profit organizations.  Entry fees go up after July 15 to $1,250 for corporate teams and $900 for non-profit teams. 

All proceeds from the event go to support the mission of the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the state’s lakes, rivers and streams, which serve as the main source of drinking water for millions of Tennesseans

To qualify for the reduced registration fees for the only downtown Knoxville dragon boat race, teams need to fill out the online forms by July 15, 2015.  Race information is available on the TCWN website at www.tcwn.org/dragon.  To register for the race, go to the TCWN website, www.tcwn.org, and click on the registration link at the top of the page.

TCWN’s DDDPR is coming to Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 beginning at 8 AM.

“Teams of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson race in authentic Hong Kong-style 46-foot-long dragon boats,” said Renee Hoyos, TCWN’s Executive Director.  “All ages, skill levels and abilities can participate making it one of the ultimate team building sports!”

“This dragon boat racing event is family-friendly.  There will be prizes for winners in the dragon boat races and prizes for off-water competitions like the best tent theme, most creative t-shirt and the like,” Hoyos added.

Visit Knoxville’s Erin Donovan will be the MC for the dragon boat races.  Sweet P’s will have a concession stand selling their famous barbeque and beer.  The Blue Mason Coffee Shop will have coffee and pastries for the early risers at the event.

“We are happy to announce that River Sports Outfitters and the KEEN Shoe Company will be presenting a free pair of KEEN shoes to each team member on the dragon boat that raises the most money for TCWN at the DDDPR.  The Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center is sponsoring the all women division in the race.  And Knoxville restaurant supply company KaTom is sponsoring all the practice races.  It is great to have this community support behind the race and behind the work of TCWN, which is protecting our lakes rivers and creeks,” Hoyos said.

This event will see the return of Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing, a women-owned and Knoxville based dragon boat racing company, to downtown Knoxville. “We're returning to our roots as we help revive this fun, cultural event in the heart of Knoxville.  Many of our favorite memories were made here in our hometown. We look forward to seeing you again on the water. Paddles Up!” says Penny Behling, owner of Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing, LLC.

Each team that registers for the race will get an on-water practice session with a trained coach the week prior to the race day.  Each team will compete in at least two heats on Race Day - Saturday, August 29, 2105.

Dating back more than 2,300 years, dragon boat racing grows in worldwide popularity each year, and is the eighth fastest growing water sport.  Teams rave about the adrenaline-pumping excitement, friendly competition and community spirit surrounding the sport. 

For team registration or corporate sponsorships, contact TCWN’s Angela Howard at 865-951-5454 or [email protected]  More information on the Downtown Dragon, Drum, and Paddle Race is available at www.tcwn.org/dragon

 

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A Victory For Clean Water in Madisonville and the Tellico Reservoir - June 30, 2015

Contact:

Stephanie Durman, TCWN General Counsel, 865-244-5121

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A Victory For Clean Water In Madisonville and the Tellico Reservoir

June 30, 2015 – After years of permit violations and pollution of Bat Creek, a tributary of the Tellico Reservoir, a federal court ordered the City of Madisonville to build a new wastewater treatment plant to go into operation by June 30, 2017.

The consent decree was signed on June 29, 2015, by U.S. Eastern Tennessee District Court Chief District Judge Tom Varlan.  The consent decree acknowledged the violations of the Clean Water Act by the existing Madisonville sewage collection system and its treatment plant, and requires the City of Madisonville to follow a defined action plan for meeting its obligations under its state discharge permit. Critically, the plan calls for Madisonville to build a new sewage treatment plant to discharge highly treated wastewater to Bat Creek and to eliminate overflows of raw sewage from the headworks of the existing plant.

The consent decree settles a lawsuit filed against the City of Madisonville by the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) and the Watershed Association of the Tellico Reservoir (WATeR).

“We are pleased the consent decree compels the city to take action to bring its system into compliance with its discharge permit, which was written to protect water quality in Bat Creek and the Tellico Reservoir,” said TCWN General Counsel Stephanie Durman. “All of the parties involved in negotiating this settlement recognized that a permanent fix was needed, and sooner rather than later. With this resolution, the people of Madisonville and the Tellico Reservoir area will benefit from cleaner water for generations.”

WATeR supports policies and projects that protect and improve the environment in and around Tellico Reservoir. The focus is on issues, policies, and practices that promote clean air, water, and natural habitat so that humans can live, work, and play in harmony with native plants and animals as well as with each other.

“The members of WATeR have been waiting a long time for this day to come,” said Bill Waldrop of WATeR.  “The continued pollution of our creeks and streams is a threat to this area’s way of life that is based on clean water and recreational use of the Tellico Reservoir.”

“The record of environmental violations from this treatment plant reflects a pattern of discharges from the 1950s prior to the enactment of environmental laws.  The corrective action specified in the consent decree will bring the people of Madisonville and throughout the watershed of Tellico Lake a modern facility to treat sewage and help to improve and maintain the quality of life in this area,” Waldrop continued.

Durman noted that the consent decree also requires Madisonville to pay $10,000 for a supplemental environmental project that will monitor a number of pollutants in Bat Creek for two years.

The entire consent decree is available at the TCWN website, www.tcwn.org/cleanwater.

 

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. Visit TCWN’s website at www.tcwn.org for more information on TCWN’s programs and policies to improve water quality in the state.

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TCWN Report Documents Lack of TDEC Enforcement of Clean Water Laws - May 6, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TCWN Report Documents Lack of TDEC Enforcement of Clean Water Laws

May 6, 2015 – A biennial report released today by the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) shows that surface water enforcement orders by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) remain at near historic lows.

“Enforcement actions are necessary to ensure the state’s clean water laws are properly followed,” said TCWN’s Water Policy Director and the report’s author, Dana Wright.  “TCWN issues this report every two years to help identify gaps in the state’s enforcement program as there is a direct correlation between TDEC enforcement and the water quality in our state.”

The “State of Tennessee Water Pollution Report – 2014-2015” documents only 53 enforcement actions in 2014, down over 75 percent from the high of 231 in 2008, the first year TCWN issued the Water Pollution Report.  “While there is slight improvement from the 2013 number of 50 to 53 in 2014, there are still 13,000 stream miles and 181,000 lake acres designated as polluted in Tennessee,” Wright said. “Just 53 orders for more than 17,000 active water permits is clearly insufficient.”

“TDEC needs to be more aggressive in taking swift, effective enforcement action where necessary to protect water quality in Tennessee.  The citizens of this state depend on TDEC to enforce the law, and this report shows that stronger action needs to be taken by TDEC,” Wright added.

TCWN’s General Counsel Stephanie Durman said TDEC should focus more on egregious pollution violators in Tennessee. “TDEC needs to address the worst-case pollution and compliance problems first to be effective in its role as a regulator.”

Another area of concern cited in the report is that the amount of fines to be paid is too low to deter violations.  Water pollution violators are typically paying only a quarter of the total assessed fines as an upfront penalty, while the balance only becomes due if the enforcement order is violated.

“Minimizing the fines assessed for past violations is contradictory to the intent of punishing an offender for violating our water laws. The state determines the violations are worth a specific amount, which includes the need to deter future violations, but then only requires a fraction of that amount to be paid.  State regulators need to use the biggest bat they have to stop pollution in our state, and forgiving fines is not going to force anyone to change behavior,” Durman said.

 

The report lists six locations across the state where TDEC should have taken swifter and stronger enforcement actions:

 

            *A & E Livestock – Weakly County

            *Gemstone Properties – Shelby County

            *Holston Army Ammunitions Plant – Kingsport

            *Hickory Corner Dairy – Claiborne County

            *TVA’s Gallatin Fossil Plant – Sumner County

            *Justice Mines – various locations in Tennessee

 

Durman noted that formal enforcement action is not the only way to promote compliance. TDEC also conducts inspections and informal enforcement through, among other means, technical assistance and notices of violation. The ultimate goal, however, is compliance, and there are literally hundreds of sites throughout Tennessee currently in violation of our water laws.

 

“Enforcement is not and should not be an end in itself, but instead a means to achieve compliance and environmental protection. Enforcement should not only serve to protect water quality, but also to deter future violations. TCWN urges TDEC to employ its full enforcement capabilities to provide Tennesseans with safe, clean water and to instill good business practices from the industries granted the privilege to impact our streams,” Wright said.

 

For the complete report, visit the TCWN website at www.tcwn.org.

 

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Citizen Groups Sue to Protect Imperiled Fish from Strip Mining Pollution - May 4, 2015

Contact:

Stephanie Durman, TCWN General Counsel, 865-244-5121

Jane Davenport, Defenders Senior Staff Attorney, 202-772-3274

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Citizen Groups Sue to Protect Imperiled Fish from Strip Mining Pollution

May 4, 2015 –Today, four citizen groups filed suit in the Federal District Court in Knoxville, alleging two federal agencies failed to meet their obligations under the Endangered Species Act to consult with each other to protect the threatened blackside dace when issuing the coal mining permit for the 1,088-acre Sterling and Strays strip mine in Claiborne County, Tennessee.

Plaintiffs include Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM).

 

The lawsuit alleges that the US Dept. of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Surface Mining (OSM) failed to consult with the DOI’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) concerning adverse impacts on a federally protected fish species in the Clear Fork Creek watershed before issuing the permit for the strip mining operation near Clairfield, Tennessee.

The citizen groups contend OSM and FWS did not perform their duties under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, which requires them to consult with each other to insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by the agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered species.

“The blackside dace is not only a unique part of Tennessee’s natural heritage, but is also the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for water quality,” said Jane Davenport, senior attorney with Defenders of Wildlife. “The blackside dace needs what we all need – clean, fresh water that’s not contaminated by strip mining pollution. If dace are getting sick and dying, people are next.  Indeed, peer-reviewed studies have well documented the serious health threat caused by mountaintop removal mining.”

“OSM’s own analysis shows that both sediment and conductivity will increase significantly during the 10-year life of this mine. This pollution will threaten water quality in streams that support the backside dace, a rare fish species endemic to coal mining regions in Tennessee and Kentucky.  OSM relied on 19-year-old Biological Opinion to grant the permit, but this opinion is not site or species specific and does nothing to protect fish from coal mining pollution,” said TCWN General Counsel Stephanie Durman.

 “The fact is that OSM did not perform the required due diligence to protect blackside dace, even though is well-known that coal mining operations have a terrible impact on surrounding creeks and rivers. Our organizations cannot just sit back and watch as the very agencies tasked with protecting our environment fail to fulfill their responsibilities under the law,” said Sierra Club volunteer Axel Ringe

 

Claiborne County resident Vickie Terry, a member of SOCM, lives near the proposed mining site.  “My family and I are very concerned about the health of our water because it affects our health,” Terry said.  “I have several grandchildren that enjoy fishing and swimming in our local streams.”

“The streams are a major part of our recreational activities, and we have regular stream cleanups because we want them to remain clean.  One of the best things is knowing that the water in these streams is still clean enough to support rare species such as the blackside dace.  These permits could result in our water being poisoned and the destruction of these beautiful streams and mountains.  That would change communities in Claiborne County forever,” Terry added.

More information and a copy of the complaint are available at www.tcwn.org/cleanwater1.

Holston River Aming America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2015 - April 7, 2015

 

Holston River Among America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2015

Two rivers in Tennessee listed as Most Endangered this year

APRIL 7, 2015

Contact:

Erin McCombs, American Rivers, (828) 649-7887

Renee Hoyos, Tennessee Clean Water Network, (865) 607-6618

 

www.AmericanRivers.org/Holston   

 

Washington, D.C.- American Rivers named the Holston River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2015 today, highlighting the threat toxic chemical explosives from an army ammunition plant pose to clean drinking water supplies.

“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are at a tipping point,” said Erin McCombs of American Rivers. “Chemical explosives and drinking water don’t mix. The families and communities along the Holston River have a right to clean drinking water. They shouldn’t have to worry about what’s coming out of the tap.”

The Holston Army Ammunition Plant discharges RDX, a toxic chemical explosive and possible human carcinogen, into the Holston River, which supplies drinking water for more than 56,000 residents in Tennessee and Virginia. The Environmental Protection Agency’s RDX lifetime health advisory limit is 2 ug/L for drinking water. In March and April of 2014, RDX was found in all five drinking water samples taken by the First Utility District of Hawkins County and the samples indicated RDX levels at more than double the EPA’s limit.

American Rivers called on the U.S. Army and the ammunition plant operator, BAE Systems, to stop or significantly reduce the amount of RDX they are dumping into the Holston River.

Another river in Tennessee, the Harpeth River, also made this year’s Most Endangered list because of threats from sewage pollution. The Most Endangered listing of two rivers in Tennessee this year underscores the importance of the state’s role in safeguarding clean water.  

“Clean water and healthy rivers are vital to Tennessee’s heritage and the health of our families and communities. It’s critical that the state takes its enforcement responsibilities seriously and protects our clean drinking water from polluters,” said Renée Hoyos, Executive Director of Tennessee Clean Water Network.

The Holston River flows 274 miles from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the confluence with the French Broad River and becomes the Tennessee River. The Holston River is home to 47 species of fish including smallmouth bass, brown trout, rainbow trout, redline darter, and bigeye chub.  The river has played a key role in our nation’s history – it was the site of a 1791 treaty between the United States and Cherokee Indian Nation, and also saw many battles throughout the Civil War.

 

The annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates.  Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.

 

“This year’s report underscores the importance of healthy rivers to each and every American,” said Irvin. “Whether it's for clean drinking water, ample water supplies for farms and cities, abundant fish and wildlife, or iconic places vital to our heritage, we all have a stake in protecting our nation’s rivers.”

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About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.

 

Knoxville News Sentinel Editorial Blasts Coal Mine Permit Bill in Tennessee Legislature

TCWN and other citizen groups in Tennessee are opposing a bill in the Tennessee Legislature that would return the duty of issuing coal strip mine permits to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation from the federal Office of Surface Mining (SB0842/HB0833).  The bill would create another state department to handle the permits, costing Tennessee taxpayers millions of dollars in the next five years to operate.

The Monday, April 6, 2015, editorial in the Knoxville News-Sentinel states a great case against this unnecessary bill.  The paper writes that the bill is terribly flawed.  Please contact your legislator and ask him or her to vote against this bill.

Editorial: State shouldn't regulate coal mining again

3:00 AM, Apr 6, 2015

editorials

The state of Tennessee would seek to reassume responsibility for regulating coal mining after more than three decades of federal oversight under a bill advancing through the Legislature.

Tennessee is the only coal-producing state that has surrendered the regulation of coal mining to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, so the idea sounds good on the surface. Dig deeper, however, and the proposal is badly flawed.

Tennessee abdicated its regulatory responsibilities in 1984 after a dispute with OSM, which essentially is supposed to act as a watchdog over state regulators. Since then, OSM has issued permits, inspected mines and enforced the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. Under the bill, The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation would assume those duties, though Tennessee cannot unilaterally make the decision. If the bill passes, TDEC would have to prove to the Department of the Interior it is capable of properly regulating the industry.

The bill's sponsors are Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, and Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston. The bill's authors, however, are the Tennessee Mining Association and its lobbyists, Chuck Laine and Roxanne Reiley. They contend that TDEC would be able to process permit applications faster than OSM, leading to an expansion of mining in Tennessee and more jobs in the coal fields.

The problem with the industry appears to be more a shrinking market for the state's high-sulfur coal than regulatory sluggishness.

Coal production in Tennessee plunged 90 percent from its peak of 11 million tons in 1972 to 1.1 million tons in 2013. The number of miners has dwindled below 500.

There are only five mines in the state that are actually producing coal, according to a recent OSM report. There are nine mines that are fully permitted but not producing a single chunk of coal.

If Tennessee regains primacy, a newly christened Board of Natural Resources would have to develop regulations and TDEC would have to hire staff to do the work of issuing permits, inspecting mines and enforcing the rules. The federal government would split the cost with the state, with permitting fees and a new state severance tax on coal covering the state's portion of the tab. The numbers are fuzzy, however, and the production of coal can vary wildly while the state's fixed costs would remain constant at best.

When the idea of the state reassuming primacy in coal regulation was floated last year, our support for exploring the possibility was contingent upon passage of the Scenic Vistas Protection Act. That proposal would have kept TDEC from issuing water quality permits to mines that operated on the peaks of mountains. The act's sponsor and primary advocate, Knoxville Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson, was defeated in the November elections, leaving the measure without a legislative advocate.

In the absence of such a law, which would prevent the type of mountaintop removal mining that has savaged mountains in Kentucky and West Virginia, we cannot support the primacy bill. Coal is no longer king in Tennessee's mountains; tourism is.

TCWN and Other Citizen Groups Unite To Stop Permits for Delinquent Mine Operator - March 12, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Stephanie Ann Durman, General Counsel, TCWN, 865-244-5121, [email protected]

Heather Davis, Communications Coordinator, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, 865-456-9070 [email protected]

Axel C. Ringe, Conservation Chair, Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club, 865-397-1840 [email protected]

 

Citizen Groups Unite To Stop Permits For Delinquent Mine Operator

March 12, 2015 – A coalition of Tennessee citizen groups is urging the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) not to reauthorize Clean Water Act permits that a rogue coal mine operator let expire for 10 coal facilities.

The Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), the Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) and the Sierra Club today submitted comments to TDEC opposing the proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and detailing the poor track record of compliance with environmental regulations and worker safety rules at mines and other coal operations owned by coal billionaire investor Jim Justice.

The two Justice companies seeking to reauthorize their expired permits are Premium Coal Company and National Coal, LLC.

“Despite a full year’s prior written notice from TDEC of the obligation to submit renewal applications for their coal operations, these companies failed to renew ten of their NPDES permits.  Apparently these Justice mining operators think United States laws are for everyone else but them,” said Stephanie Durman, TCWN General Counsel.

“The Justice mines have been in violation of the Clean Water Act’s most fundamental requirement for as long as four years, yet TDEC is proposing just to give them back their old permits as-is,” Durman added.

In addition, 16 of Justice’s Tennessee coal mining operations failed to submit required discharge reports to TDEC in the third quarter of 2013 and this failure to report continued into 2014.

“This is an extraordinarily serious violation because permittee reporting of pollutant discharges is central to the Clean Water Act’s compliance and enforcement framework, and many of these mines had reported numerous permit violations before they stopped submitting the reports,” said Axel Ringe, Conservation Chair for the Sierra Club.  “For example, one of the Justice mines, the Baldwin coal preparation plant in Anderson County, was the source of a significant blackwater spill to the New River in January, 2012.”

“Violations at Justice’s Zeb Mountain coal mine spanned the decades-plus history of the mine, which was Tennessee’s largest strip mine.  The Zeb Mountain site is now in reclamation,” Ringe added.

The three citizen’s groups are specifically recommending that TDEC not allow any new mining or coal operation refuse disposal under any reauthorized NPDES permits.

“TDEC has the authority to revoke, reissue or modify NDPES permits, and given the very significant, long-standing pattern of noncompliance at the Justice mines, the remedy of permit denial and/or modification of the terms of the expired permits to allow only reclamation of strip mines and other coal operations is warranted,”  said Durman.

The expired permits are for coal operations in Anderson, Campbell and Scott counties in East Tennessee.

SOCM Member and Board President Patrick Morales said that people all across Tennessee are suffering from the legacy of pollution at the Justice mines.

“Jim Justice has a long history of disregard for the health and welfare of the communities directly impacted by the careless practices of his mining companies,” Morales said.  “The people of Tennessee should be aware of the costs of his blatant disregard for the Clean Water Act. It is a legacy of unpaid fines, polluted water, and an attitude of disrespect for the laws that protect our communities. No matter where you live in Tennessee you are paying for this disrespect.”

To see the complete comments submitted to TDEC by TCWN, SOCM and Sierra Club, visit the TCWN website at www.tcwn.org.

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. Visit TCWN’s website at www.tcwn.org for more information on TCWN’s programs and policies to improve water quality in the state.

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TCWN's Wild & Scenic Film Festival Brings the Best in Outdoor Films to Knoxville

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

TCWN’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival Brings the Best in Outdoor Films to Knoxville

 

March 2, 2015 – The Tennessee Clean Water Network is bringing a premier collection of environmental films that showcase gorgeous natural cinematography, hair-raising outdoor adventures and the critical environmental issues of our time to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Thursday, April 2, 2015.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival will be shown at the Relix Theatre located at 1208 North Central in North Knoxville’s Happy Holler.  Doors will open at 6:30 PM and the films will start at 7 PM.  General Admission tickets are $10 and a donation of $20 includes admission for the film festival and a TCWN annual membership.  Tickets can be purchased at www.tcwn.org and following the Donate link at the top of the page.

“The TCWN staff has selected 90 minutes of incredible films that are sure to engage, inspire and entertain young and old at the festival,” said Patience Melnik, TCWN’s Director of Environmental Health Programs.  “The film festival is also designed to raise public awareness of several of our most pressing environmental issues and how individual actions can make a difference in our efforts to improve sustainable practices.”

“There will also be information on how TCWN is improving the health our state’s communities.  From cleaning up our drinking water supply to helping reduce obesity and diabetes rates, TCWN is working hard to protect the health and environment of the Volunteer State,” Melnik added.

Some of the films to be shown at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival include:

 

Common Ground

            Director Alexandria Bombach uses soaring panoramic shots of the Rockies Front Range to highlight some ranching and farming communities that are faced with decisions about what is to become of this unprotected public land.   As the community battles with the idea of proposing more wilderness areas, heritage and tradition are seemingly defended on both sides of the argument.

The Ridge

            Danny Macaskill is a very good bike rider.  A very, very, good biker rider.  So he climbed a mountain near his home on the Isle of Skye off the coast of Scotland and did something that will make you scream with joy and horror.

14.c

            Climbers all have a story about how they got started, and 14-year-old Kai Lighter’s introduction is particularly striking – and not only because he’s a brilliant climber.  Much like Tiger Woods in golf or the Williams sisters in tennis, Kai could change the demographics of climbing.  This film, directed by George Knowles, isn’t about race; however, it’s about family.  His single mother has become his regular belay partner, and she also makes sure that he maintains a straight A grade point average in school.  This film has won the Most Inspiring Award at the 5Point Film Festival and was a runner-up at the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is produced by SYRCL and its national partners Patagonia, CLIF Bar, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Klean Kanteen, Orion Magazine and Barefoot Wine and Bubbly.

For more information on the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, call Patience at 865-522-7007, ext. 105 or email at [email protected].

 

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. Visit TCWN’s website at www.tcwn.org for more information on TCWN’s programs and policies to improve water quality in the state.

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TCWN Bringing Dragon Boat Racing to Volunteer Landing In Downtown Knoxville in August (released on Feb. 18, 2015)

                      

TENNESSEE CLEAN WATER NETWORK

P. O. Box 1521    Knoxville, Tennessee 37901

office: 865.522.7007    fax: 865.525.4988    website: www.tcwn.org

 

Contact:  Renee Hoyos – 865-522-7007, ext. 100

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TCWN Bringing Dragon Boat Racing to Volunteer Landing in August

Feb. 18, 2015 – Dragons will be prowling the Tennessee River as the Downtown Dragon, Drum, and Paddle Race is coming to Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville on Saturday, Aug.  29, 2015.

This dragon boat racing event is family-friendly and all proceeds from the event will benefit the Tennessee Clean Water Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the Volunteer state’s rivers, lakes and streams.

“Registration in now open for the Downtown Dragon, Drum, and Paddle Boat Races,” said Renee Hoyos, TCWN’s Executive Director.  “Teams of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson race in authentic Hong Kong-style 46-foot-long dragon boats.  All ages, skill levels and abilities can participate making it one of the ultimate team building sports!”

 “Now is the time to organize a team of 20 paddlers as the race is great fun and a great way to spend a day on the river.  There will be prizes for winners in the dragon boat races and prizes for off-water competitions like the best tent theme, most creative t-shirt and the like.  But the real winner of the day is the Tennessee Clean Water Network as the money raised goes toward protecting our lakes, rivers and streams, which serve as the main source of drinking water for millions of Tennesseans,” Hoyos added.

This event will see the return of Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing, a women-owned and Knoxville based dragon boat racing company. “We're returning to our roots as we help revive this fun, cultural event in the heart of Knoxville.  Many of our favorite memories were made here in our hometown. We look forward to seeing you again on the water. Paddles Up!” says Penny Behling, owner of Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing, LLC.

Each team that registers for the race will get an on-water practice session with a trained coach the week prior to the race day.  Each team will compete in at least two heats on Saturday, August 29, 2105.

Race teams can save on registration costs between now and July 15, 2015.  The early registration fee is $1,000 for corporate team and $850 for teams from non-profit organizations.  Entry fees go up after July 15 to $1,200 for corporate teams and $900 for non-profit teams.

Dating back more than 2,300 years, dragon boat racing grows in worldwide popularity each year, and is the eighth fastest growing water sport.  Teams rave about the adrenaline-pumping excitement, friendly competition and community spirit surrounding the sport.  Teams of 20 paddlers, along with a drummer and steersperson, will spirit down a section of the Tennessee River in downtown Knoxville to find the best dragon boat racing team in East Tennessee.

For team registration or corporate sponsorships, contact Renee Hoyos at 865-522-7007, ext. 100.  More information on the Downtown Dragon, Drum, and Paddle Race is available at www.tcwn.org/dragon

 

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. Visit TCWN’s website at www.tcwn.org for more information on TCWN’s programs and policies to improve water quality in the state.

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Court Clears Way for Lawsuit to Protect Species from Destructive Coal Mining in Tennessee - Jan. 29, 2015

For Immediate Release: January 29, 2015

Contact:
Adam Beitman, Sierra Club, 202-670-5585 [email protected]

Haley McKey, Defenders of Wildlife, 202-772-0247, [email protected]

Heather Davis, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, 865-268-4402

                         [email protected]

Stephanie Matheny, Tennessee Clean Water Network, 865-244-5121 [email protected]

Court Clears Way for Lawsuit to Protect Endangered Species from Destructive Coal Mining in Tennessee
Groups Allege that Federal Agencies Violated Endangered Species Act in TN Mining Approvals
 

Knoxville, TN – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee has issued a decision allowing a lawsuit to proceed against the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The lawsuit, a first of its kind, argues that the agencies have violated the Endangered Species Act by approving mining permits for the Zeb Mountain and Davis Creek Area 5 surface mines in Tennessee.

Defenders of Wildlife, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), and the Sierra Club argue that OSM and the USFWS failed to 

fully consider the effects that specific forms of pollution from mining operations, as evidenced by the best science and data available, would have on the endangered Cumberland darter and the threatened blackside dace; two fresh water fish found primarily in the areas threatened by mining waste pollution from these sites.

 

The decision resolves efforts by the agencies to block the litigation. The court will next consider arguments going to the merits of the groups’ claims.

Tom Chadwell has lived with the pollution and environmental damage of strip mining near his home for decades.  "My family is pleased that this case can moved forward,” said Chadwell, a Sierra Club member.  “The area around Davis Creek has been the focus of coal strip mining operations for generations. It gives me hope for the future of the environment of my homeplace to think the court and society may begin to offer some degree of protection to the more sensitive species in our ecosystem." 

The groups contend that mining pollution – as indicated by high levels of conductivity – put the future of the blackside dace and Cumberland darter at risk. Conductivity is a measure of the ability of fresh water to carry an electric current. The higher the conductivity level in Appalachian streams, the more pollutants are in the water and the greater the threat to certain species of aquatic life. Conductivity is measured in microSiemens per centimeter (µS/cm) with a safe level for the darter and dace being less than 240 µS/cm. However, tests of the water downstream from the Zeb mountaintop removal mine site show conductivity ranging from 538 to 886 µS/cm – far outside safe limits for the fish. In fact, in 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency reviewed state mining permits in Appalachia and found that none of them took steps to prevent pollution that increases conductivity in streams mining operations filled with debris.

"The science is clear," says Patrick Morales, SOCM President, "The toxic substances released by surface mining, particularly mountaintop removal mining, are a huge threat to fish populations in Appalachia.”

 

“Thankfully, the court realizes the importance of protecting our Tennessee waterways, and we hope that this will help curtail future degradation to our water," Morales added.

 

Defenders of Wildlife, SOCM, TCWN and Sierra Club are represented in this action by Defenders of Wildlife senior staff attorney Jane Davenport and TCWN’s attorney Stephanie Durman Matheny.

"The court’s decision sets an important precedent allowing Tennesseans to exercise their rights to protect threatened and endangered species from the harmful effects of strip mining," said Matheny. "Cleaner water for imperiled fish means cleaner water for people too."

“It is the responsibility of our federal agencies to ensure that mining and other development efforts do not destroy our nation’s fish and wildlife,” said Davenport. “The court’s decision to let this case move forward was absolutely correct. The evidence is clear: the agencies did not consider the devastating impacts these proposed mines could have on imperiled fish species in the region. These impacts need to be adequately assessed before the projects get underway.  At the end of the day, this is a lawsuit about water quality, and degraded water quality is a warning flag of significance not only for the affected species of fish but for humans downstream as well. ”

Mountaintop removal and other forms of surface mining have already caused a significant decrease in the dace and darter populations. Mountaintop removal is an extremely destructive form of coal mining. Mines clear-cut timber and undergrowth, blast open the earth, and destroy streams, including by filling them with mining waste. This devastating practice poisons drinking water, lays waste to wildlife habitat, increases risk of flooding, and wipes out entire communities. According to a 2005 Environmental Impact Statement, mountaintop removal coal mining has buried and contaminated more than 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia – and many more miles have been buried since then.

 

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TCWN And Other Citizens Groups Support TDEC Lawsuit Concerning TVA's Gallatin Fossil Plant

CITIZENS GROUPS SUPPORT TENNESSEE STATE ACTION AGAINST TVA FOR ALLEGED ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS AT THE GALLATIN FOSSIL PLANT

Contact: Stephanie Durman Matheny, TCWN Attorney, 865-244-5121

Nashville, Tennessee

January 7, 2015

Today, three citizens groups announced their support for action taken by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Attorney General against the Tennessee Valley Authority for alleged environmental violations associated with its coal ash ponds at the Gallatin Fossil Plant.

On November 10, 2014, Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of Tennessee Clean Water Network and the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, sent a notice of intent to sue Tennessee Valley Authority over coal ash contamination of Cumberland River and surrounding groundwater for decades in violation of the Clean Water Act.  “We are pleased the State has taken action in response to the notice sent on behalf of these three citizen groups, “ said Anne Davis, Managing Attorney of Southern Environmental Law Center’s Nashville office. “We remain concerned about the serious ongoing environmental problems at TVA’s Gallatin Fossil Plant, including releases of coal ash contaminants to groundwater and to the Cumberland River.”

“The lawsuit filed today appears to address the most serious coal ash problems at the Gallatin ponds. While we appreciate the State taking this action today, ultimately it will be the environmental results that count. We hope and expect that the results achieved through this lawsuit will protect public health and the environment,” added Stephanie Durman Matheny, attorney for the Tennessee Clean Water Network.

“We’re glad that TDEC recognizes that this action is necessary to protect the public interest, and we expect the State to seek strong environmental protections that will adequately protect the water quality of the Cumberland River,” said Daniel Boone of the Tennessee Scenic River Association.

 

TCWN and Other Citizen Groups Urge TDEC To Revoke TVA's Permit for Coal Ash Disposal Facility at Kingston Coal Plant

December 30, 2014

GROUPS CALL FOR REJECTION OF COAL ASH DUMP AT
KINGSTON COAL PLANT
Proposed TDEC Permit Raises Major Red Flags, Fails to Protect Health and Safety

KNOXVILLE, TN – Today, a coalition of environmental and conservation groups urged the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to revoke a 2007 permit for a coal ash disposal facility at the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston coal plant.  The groups also asked TDEC to reject major changes to the 2007 permit requested by TVA until a safer site is found for the disposal of past and future coal ash.

Coal ash, the toxic by-product left over after coal is burned, contains heavy metals like arsenic, lead, selenium, and other dangerous substances. The public health hazards and environmental threats to nearby communities from unsafe coal ash storage have been documented for decades, and include increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, and other illnesses.

In 2008, over 5 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash from the Kingston coal plant had disastrous consequences for the local environment. In 2010, the landfill TVA is seeking to modify with a new permit experienced a collapse from a sinkhole, releasing ash waste and wastewater that included large quantities of selenium, which is toxic to fish, into the environment. The extent of harm to the Clinch River is not yet fully known.

To address the problems with the existing coal ash permit, and the proposed modifications requested by TVA to the landfill, the groups submitted extensive technical information and comments to TDEC. The groups note that in addition to ongoing contamination from the Kingston coal ash ponds, the site continues to be geologically complex and unstable.  Also, the proposed permit modifications do not adequately plan to deal with future sinkholes or provide sufficient analysis of the ecological dangers posed to the Clinch River from coal ash.

“The site under consideration is vastly unstable and inherently flawed as a storage facility for toxic coal waste. We strongly urge TDEC to deny the permit modification and start over with TVA to ensure that they get this right and not risk any more collapses that threaten nearby waterways that have already been so insulted by contamination problems,” stated Ulla Reeves, High Risk Energy Director with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

The groups’ comments highlight the unsuitability and instability of the coal ash landfill, which both TDEC and TVA have acknowledged. TVA discovered 10 sinkholes after construction of the landfill initially began, and in December 2010, an 11th large and sudden sinkhole collapsed within one of the ash disposal areas. Currently, the proposal to mitigate sinkholes that carry wastes directly to surrounding waters does nothing to protect groundwater levels influenced by the Clinch River.

Additionally, TVA’s proposed water quality monitoring plan doesn’t meet TDEC’s own policy regarding monitoring for a long list of toxic chemicals associated with coal ash, including aluminum, arsenic, boron, manganese, strontium, and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).

“Given TVA's history of leaks, blowouts, and the catastrophic disaster at the Kingston coal ash landfill, it’s hard to believe the utility, along with TDEC, would propose a permit modification as inadequate and sloppy as this one,” said Axel Ringe, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club’s Tennessee Chapter. “Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set new coal ash rules, which makes you wonder why TDEC and TVA rushed to push these changes to the permit through so swiftly in the first place.”

Franz Raetzer, a Roane County resident and member of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment added, “Undiluted coal combustion waste is toxic and has to be stored in a safe way forever. I do not understand why TDEC and TVA are proposing a permit that does not seem to take this into account and instead seems to cover up that this storage would not be safe. As a resident of Roane County, I am deeply concerned about this, in light of the 2008 and 2010 spills, and the effect on our community.”

“This permit is a disaster in the making.  TVA is fully aware of what happens when it stores coal ash in an unstable area. Yet, TVA is proposing to do the same thing again and hoping for a different result.  TVA should go back to the drawing board and find a safe site for its coal ash landfill,” said Mary Whittle, an attorney for Earthjustice.

“TVA and TDEC didn’t even require groundwater monitoring for coal ash pollutants – something they told the citizens of Tennessee they would do at all of TVA’s coal ash landfills.  And that’s just one example of how little thought went into this permit modification,” said Abel Russ, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project.

The coalition of groups submitting comments to TDEC includes: Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Southern Environmental Law Center, Tennessee Clean Water Network, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice and Sierra Club.

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TCWN Files Lawsuit Against the U.S. Army and BAE Concerning RDX Pollution in Holston River

Contact:   Stephanie Durman Matheny – 865.522.7007 x102 or 865.244.5121 (cell)

 

 

November 18, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

TCWN Files Lawsuit to Force the U.S. Army and BAE

to Clean-Up the Holston River

Toxic Chemical RDX Found in Water From Kingsport to Knox County

 

Knoxville, Tennessee - The Tennessee Clean Water Network has filed a lawsuit to force the U.S.  Army and BAE to stop the pollution of the Holston River with a highly explosive chemical, RDX, used in military ammunitions and bombs and to comply with other provisions of the facility’s Clean Water Act permits.

The toxic RDX is coming from the Holston Army Ammunitions Plant (HSAAP) in Kingsport, Tennessee.  The HSAAP is owned by the U.S. Department of the Army and operated by BAE Systems Ordnance Systems, Inc.

On September 17, 2014, TCWN sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue to the Army and BAE.  “It is clear that TCWN must take this legal action to protect water quality in the Holston River, which serves as the source of drinking water for thousands of people in East Tennessee and is used by fisherman, boaters, and swimmers,” said Stephanie Durman Matheny, TCWN’s attorney. “All Tennesseans have a right to unpolluted waters, and that means we should not have explosives in our rivers.”

“Our research shows a long history by HSAAP of polluting the Holston River with RDX, a highly explosive synthetic pollutant that does not occur naturally in the environment and is a possible human carcinogen.  There are documented violations by the Army and BAE of its state permits in regards to RDX limits, spills and overflows at the HSAAP facility and we are taking this legal action to compel compliance with our water quality laws,” Matheny added.

Matheny said that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and BAE have entered into a compliance agreement to address the problem.  “A compliance agreement is not strong enough to address these serious pollution problems in the Holston caused by the HSAAP.  The Army and BAE first found out about the RDX pollution in 2004 and a decade later the problem is only getting worse.”

“In this lawsuit against the Army and BAE, TCWN is seeking a federal court order requiring BAE and the Army to comply with their permits in an expedited manner.  Without this court order, I am afraid another decade will pass with continued pollution by this dangerous chemical, RDX, which has a lifetime health advisory guidance from the EPA.”

The RDX pollution is not just confined to the Kingsport area.  It is a problem from Kingsport to Morristown to Knoxville as RDX has been found in samples from the Holston River just above the confluence with the French Broad River in Knox County, which is more than 100 miles from the HSAAP. The impacted area includes Cherokee Lake, which is a popular recreational destination.

Continued pollution of the Holston by the Army and BAE has caused one TDEC staff member to remove herself from the position of permit writer for the HSAAP.  TDEC’s Julie A. Harse, P.E., has expressed concern in the past for the lack of progress towards meeting the HSAAP’s RDX limits. 

In a July 9, 2014, letter to TDEC’s Director of the Division of Water Resources, Ms. Harse formally removed herself as the permit writer citing her ethical obligations as a licensed professional engineer to “protect the safety, health and welfare of the public” in the performance of her duties.

“Clearly, this is an ongoing problem that needs to be a top priority for Tennessee’s environmental regulators. Stringent enforcement procedures must be mandated to address the pollution.  I applaud Ms. Harse for her dedication towards protecting the health and safety of the citizens of our state,” Matheny said.

To read the entire lawsuit and for an EPA factsheet on RDX, please visit TCWN’s website at www.tcwn.org

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. Visit TCWN’s website at www.tcwn.org for more information on TCWN’s programs and policies to improve water quality in Tennessee.

Conservation Groups File Notice Against TVA Over Coal Ash Pollution at Gallatin Plant

 

Contact:

Nick Sifuentes, 310-866-1692, [email protected]

Stephanie Durman Matheny, 865-244-5121, [email protected]

 

Conservation Groups File Notice Against Tenn. Valley Authority Over Coal Ash Pollution at Gallatin Plant

Six years after TVA was involved in largest coal ash spill in the country, groups allege that coal ash at TVA’s Gallatin Plant is leaking into Cumberland River and other drinking water sources

 

Gallatin, TN – Coal ash ponds at Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Gallatin Fossil Plant have been leaking harmful pollutants into the Cumberland River and surrounding groundwater for decades in violation of the Clean Water Act, charged conservation groups in a notice filed today.

 

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), representing the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, and the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), sent notice today to the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) of their intentions to bring suit under the Clean Water Act to stop the release of coal ash pollutants, such as arsenic and cadmium, into the Cumberland River and other surface and groundwater sites near the Gallatin Fossil Plant in middle Tennessee.

 

The groups contend that Gallatin’s coal ash ponds located adjacent to the Cumberland River hold over fifty-five years of coal ash waste in unlined, unprotected pits. Coal ash waste is widely known to contain harmful pollutants, including heavy metals, which can cause harm to human health and the environment. Known pollutants exceeding federal safety levels at the Gallatin site include arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, cobalt, mercury, and vanadium. In some cases, the amounts of pollutants tested at the site are hundreds of thousands of times what is legally allowed.

 

The Cumberland River provides drinking water for 1.2 million residents downstream from these leaking coal ash pits in Gallatin, Nashville, Rutherford County, and Williamson County. In fact, the City of Gallatin’s drinking water system withdraws water from the Cumberland River less than one and one-half miles downstream of the Gallatin Plant, and the city lists the Gallatin Plant as a primary threat to its drinking water supply. In addition, independent testing suggests that private drinking wells within a mile of the Gallatin facility have been contaminated by the coal ash operations at the plant.

 

The coal ash ponds at Gallatin have already been called a “significant hazard” by the EPA, indicating that a dam failure would cause economic loss, environmental damage, or other concerns. Moreover, in 2013, EPA found that some of the earthen dams at the Gallatin Plant were only in “fair” condition and in need of improvement.

 

The EPA stated that improvements to rectify Gallatin’s shortcomings “should be given the highest priority” given the potential impacts on human health and the environment. “Even though the EPA made it clear that the Gallatin plant poses a hazard to the surrounding communities, TVA has not yet acted to make the fixes the agency recommended, leaving us all still at risk,” said Anne Davis, Managing Attorney at SELC’s Nashville office. “We know these coal ash pits are leaking harmful toxins into our water. It can’t go on another day. It’s time for TVA to remove all of the coal ash and move it to safe facilities away from our water supplies.”

 

“TVA has known for years that the coal ash ponds at Gallatin are leaking into our rivers and our groundwater,” said Stephanie Durman Matheny, Attorney at Tennessee Clean Water Network. “You would imagine that in the wake of the Kingston spill—which TVA is still cleaning up six years later—it would make sure another disaster on that scale would never happen again. Unfortunately, Gallatin’s leaking coal ash ponds are proof that TVA hasn’t learned its lesson, and we’re the ones who will pay the price if another disaster happens.”

 

 “The scariest thing about the coal ash ponds at Gallatin is that they hold over two billion gallons of pollutants, meaning a disaster there has the potential to dwarf the Kingston coal ash spill,” said Charlie Wilkerson, President of Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association. “The Kingston disaster, which spilled one billion gallons of coal ash and other pollutants into the Emory and Clinch Rivers, was the single largest coal ash disaster in history—and an accident at Gallatin could be far, far worse.”

 

Nearly every major river in the Southeast has coal ash ponds from power plants on its banks, and SELC is partnering with conservation groups throughout the region to protect communities and the environment from the dangers of coal ash pollution. Following lawsuits by the Southern Environmental Law Center, two of the three utilities in the Carolinas—South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper—are removing coal ash from unlined pits near rivers in South Carolina to safer, dry, lined storage facilities away from rivers and lakes. In addition, SELC currently represents dozens of groups in ten different state and federal lawsuits to clean up at all 14 of Duke Energy’s leaking coal ash sites throughout North Carolina.

###

 

About Southern Environmental Law Center: The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of about 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

 

 

 

About Tennessee Clean Water Network: Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. www.tcwn.org

 

About Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association: The Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association (TSRA) is a volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation, protection and restoration of the scenic, free-flowing rivers of our state. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the organization has approximately 1,000 members across the state and the south. www.PaddleTSRA.org

 

TVA and TCWN Present SturgeonFest 2014 at Seven Islands State Birding Park

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TVA and TCWN Present the SturgeonFest 2014 at Seven Islands State Birding Park

Oct. 8, 2014 – The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) will be hosting SturgeonFest 2014 from 10 AM to 2 PM, Sat., Oct. 18, 2014, at the Seven Islands State Birding Park, 2809 Kelly Lane in East Knox County.

            “SturgeonFest is a fun event for the whole family,” said Joshua Cunningham, TCWN’s Sustainability Coordinator.  “You will be able to learn more about the reintroduction of sturgeon into Tennessee’s waters through activities, instruction and a chance to get up close and personal with these Tennessee natives!”

            Cunningham said the big event at SturgeonFest 2104 will be the release of nearly 2,000 of these ancient fishes into the French Broad River.  “For those that would like a closer look at the guest of honor, it will be possible to hand release some of the sturgeons into the river and watch them swim away in their new river habitat,” Cunningham added.

            TVA is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the 2014 SturgeonFest.  Rebecca Tolene, Vice President of Natural Resources for TVA, said, “SturgeonFest will be a fun and  exciting way to help the public learn about the importance of this species and to introduce people to Tennessee’s newest state birding park, Seven Islands. The work of organizations like TCWN makes the Tennessee Valley a better place for all of us to live, work and play."

            Some of the other activities that day include the Sturgeon Hay Bale Maze sponsored by Knox Recycles.  This maze instructs participants on many of the environmental problems faced by sturgeons in Tennessee’s waterways and how citizens can help improve water quality in East Tennessee.

            “Events like SturgeonFest 2014 are part of TCWN’s mission to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues,” Cunningham said.

            As a result of overfishing and habitat destruction/alternation, sturgeons have been reduced to less than one percent of their original numbers.  Since 2000, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s “Saving the Sturgeon” campaign has released more than 80,000 sturgeons into the upper Tennessee River system.

            The sturgeon is considered a barometer of the health of a river system, and recent studies by the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture have shown that the fish is spreading up and down the Tennessee River.  Known as a “living fossil,” sturgeons can live for nearly 125 years and travel long distances through the river system’s dams and locks.

            SturgeonFest 2014 will be held rain or shine.  For more information on SturgeonFest 2014, contact Cunningham at [email protected].

 

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. Visit TCWN’s website at www.tcwn.org for more information on TCWN’s programs and policies to improve water quality in the Tennessee.

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Citizens Groups Issue 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue the City of Madisonville Regarding Clean Water Act Violations

 

Contact:   Stephanie Matheny (TCWN) – 865.522.7007 x102 or 865.244.5211 (cell)

                 Bill Waldrop (WATeR) – 865-809-1111

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Two Citizens Groups Issue 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue the City of Madisonville Regarding Clean Water Act Violations

 

August 4, 2014 - As a result of years of permit violations, the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) and the Watershed Association of the Tellico Reservoir (WATeR) have sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue to the City of Madisonville regarding chronic and egregious violations of the Clean Water Act.

            The City of Madisonville operates a wastewater treatment plant and a sewage collection system that discharge to Bat Creek, which is a tributary of the Tellico Reservoir of the Little Tennessee River.

            “Based on the records obtained from TDEC, Madisonville has reported more than 5,200 days of violation of numeric effluent limits from August 2009 to May 2014 as well as 136 overflows totaling millions of gallons of untreated sewage discharged to area streams,” said Stephanie Matheny, TCWN’s attorney.  “TDEC sampling has shown that the Madisonville system discharges nitrogen, phosphorus, and bacteria in amounts that are hazardous to humans and aquatic life in Bat Creek.”

            “Madisonville and TDEC have been working on this pollution problem since 2007, but for various reasons, have not reached a long-term solution to protect the people of Monroe and surrounding counties.  The intent of this 60-day notice is to let the officials in Madisonville and the state know that TCWN and WATeR are prepared to ask a court to compel action to bring this system into compliance with its permit requirements,” Matheny added.

            WATeR supports policies and projects that protect and improve the environment in and around Tellico Reservoir. The focus is on issues, policies, and practices that promote clean air, water, and natural habitat so that humans can live, work, and play in harmony with native plants and animals as well as with each other.

            “Many people have moved to the Tellico Reservoir area because of its unique scenic beauty and clean water,” said Bill Waldrop of WATeR.  “The continued pollution of our creeks and streams is a threat to this area’s way of life that is based on clean water and recreational use of the Tellico Reservoir.”

            “The record of environmental violations from this treatment plant reflects a pattern of discharges from the 1950s prior to the enactment of environmental laws.  This is what you expect to find in a Third World country, not in the 21st century in East Tennessee.  To correct these problems will likely require a major change in managerial attitude toward environmental stewardship and an allocation of appropriate resources to correct for years of neglect of maintenance and an upgrade of the entire sewer system,” Waldrop continued.

            “Many other cities along the Tennessee River and its tributaries have decided to live up to their environmental responsibilities by investing the money needed to bring their systems into compliance with the Clean Water Act,” Matheny noted.

            A copy of the 60-day notice, including a list of the violations alleged, is available at tcwn.org/cleanwater1.

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues.

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PetSafe Donates $5,000 to Tennessee Clean Water Network

For Immediate Release

 

Media Contact:

Meredith Schneider

[email protected]

(919) 229-8001

 

PetSafe Donates $5,000 to Tennessee Clean Water Network

 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (July 14, 2014)PetSafe®, an industry brand leader in the development of innovative pet behavioral, containment and lifestyle product solutions and services, has donated $5,000 to Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) in support of its public health project, Bringing Tap Back.

 

Launched in the summer of 2013, Bringing Tap Back encourages Tennesseans to drink water instead of sugary drinks as a way to fight obesity and diabetes. Funded by a Project Diabetes Grant from the Tennessee Department of Health, the project educates the public about the health benefits of drinking water, while improving access to water with the installation of water bottle refill stations in parks, public places, universities, and schools.

 

PetSafe’s donation will fund the dog bowl components for five water bottle refill stations with drinking fountains, which will be placed in some of the most high-traffic parks and public spaces in Knoxville.

 

Renée Hoyos, Executive Director of TCWN, understands how important water and proper hydration is for a dog’s health.

 

“We are so grateful for PetSafe’s generous donation to Tennessee Clean Water Network’s Bringing Tap Back project,” Hoyos said. “We know people love to get outdoors with their cherished pets. By meeting pets’ water needs we are helping their owners to be healthier. This is a win-win situation for everyone.””

 

Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives at PetSafe, believes in the power of supporting philanthropy in the community.

 

“PetSafe is proud to support projects like Bringing Tap Back, dedicated to improving animal welfare and making our communities a better place to live,” Tedford said. “We understand the importance of water for everyone’s health and are happy to be able to help improve the welfare of Knoxville’s dogs with the new water stations.”

 

PetSafe is dedicated to improving the lives of pets through proper hydration. As part of Pet Hydration Month this July, PetSafe is helping educate pet owners about the importance of providing pets with access to fresh, clean water. For more information about proper pet hydration, please visit www.petsafe.net/water.

 

About Tennessee Clean Water Network

Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. For more information about TCWN, please visit www.tcwn.org.

 

About PetSafe®

Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., PetSafe® is an industry brand leader in the development of innovative pet behavioral, containment and lifestyle product solutions and services. For more information, please visit www.petsafe.net or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

# # #

The Goats Are Returning to Williams Creek Urban Forest on Thursday

July 7, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Goats Two, The Sequel, is coming to East Knoxville Thursday

 

Knoxville, TN - Following up on the smash hit from the summer of 2013, the goats are returning to Williams Creek Urban Forest for a second season of eating those invasive weeds and grasses that we all hate, but goats love.

 

The goats will start to chow down on the Williams Creek Urban Forest weeds at 11 AM, Thursday, July 10, 2014 on the property located near the intersection of Brooks and Daily streets.  The goats will stay on the urban forest until October.

 

The Tennessee Clean Water Network is working with Whistlepig Farms (www.whistlepigfarmsgoats.com) and the city of Knoxville to restore the Williams Creek Urban Forest and the surrounding properties.  The final phase of the urban forest acquisition, which was funded by the Aslan Foundation and Alcoa Foundation, was deeded to the city in June of this year.

 

Restoration plans for the property call for using goats to combat invasive species on the land for a three-year period, creating an interpretive trail through the property and working with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to remove Williams Creek from its list of impaired waterbodies due to habitat alteration and e.coli contamination.

 

“It’s great to have the goats back for another summer of fine dining on kudzu, privet and honeysuckle vine,” said Renée Victoria Hoyos, TCWN’s Executive Director.  “They did a wonderful job of trimming back the weeds in an environmentally friendly way without the use of herbicides and other chemicals that would threaten water quality in Williams Creek. Plus they are a joy to have around for the summer. Hoyos also said that Otter, the goat-herding dog, will be returning to Williams Creek Urban Forest again this year to chaperone the goats.

 

The public is welcome to join us to greet the goats on Thursday. This event is kid friendly.

 

 

 

Tennessee Citizens Groups Fight TDEC’s Proposed Rules on Water Quality Criteria

Knoxville, TN - Eleven citizens groups in Tennessee sent a letter on June 27, 2014 asking the Environmental Protection Agency to reject the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s new rules that don’t protect Tennessee’s waters from small amounts of pollution or the cumulative effect of pollution on a river, lake or stream.

 

The citizens groups include the Tennessee Clean Water Network, Harpeth River Watershed Association, Nature Conservancy, Obed Watershed Community Association, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Save the Nolichucky, Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, Tennessee Environmental Council, and the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association.  Nashville attorney, Elizabeth Murphy, also signed the letter asking EPA to reject the proposed rules.

 

Under the Clean Water Act, states are required to review their Water Quality Criteria every three years to ensure their rules are meeting the newest challenges in protecting that state’s water resources. Tennessee completed its “triennial review” in late 2012 by issuing new new water quality rules.

 

“Tennesseans have a right to unpolluted streams, rivers, and lakes. The state holds these waters in trust for the benefit of its citizens, and is supposed to protect and restore water quality. Instead, in 2012 Tennessee weakened the very rules that are intended to protect our waters from new or increased sources of pollution,” said Stephanie Matheny, the attorney for the Tennessee Clean Water Network.

 

“The problem with these Water Quality Criteria revisions is they make it easier for TDEC to issue new pollutant discharge permits without considering alternatives to discharging small amount of toxic pollutants on our rivers, lakes and streams,” Matheny continued.

 

“At their extreme, these proposed rules could preclude a full  review of a new discharge of mercury, dioxins and PCBs to waters with endangered species or that are a source of drinking water, an absurd result that is clearly contrary to the language and intent of the Clean Water Act,” Matheny added. “TDEC also adopted confusing new terms such as parameter, unavailable parameters, and response variables that even water quality experts have trouble understanding.”

 

Matheny notes that EPA’s Region 10 disapproved Idaho’s comparable revised Water Quality Criteria. She pointed out the EPA has not approved the new TDEC rules yet.Nonetheless, TDEC has recently applied these rules to avoid full review of several controversial discharge permits: the recently-issued permit for U.S. Nitrogen and the proposed permits to allow the Brownsville Energy Authority to discharge toxic pollutants to the Hatchie River and the South Fork Forked Deer.

TCWN Applauds New Clean Water Rule to Restore Protections to Small Streams and Many Wetlands

TCWN Applauds New Clean Water Rule to Restore Protections to Small Streams and Many Wetlands

Knoxville, Tennessee – Under a proposed rule now open for public comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) aim to restore historic Clean Water Act protections to hundreds of thousands of miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands. When this policy is finalized, streams and wetlands that directly influence the water quality of our nation’s rivers, lakes and bays will once again be protected from pollution and destruction.

“This proposed rule will help to ensure the small creeks and streams that start in the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cumberland Mountains will received as much protection as the Tennessee, Cumberland and Mississippi rivers,” said Renee Hoyos, Tennessee Clean Water Network executive director.  “The wetland protection is important in Tennessee as well.  A study by the Association of State Wetland Managers shows that the state has lost nearly 60 percent of its wetlands with only 787,000 acres remaining of these valuable, environmentally sensitive areas.”

“The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has already identified about 6,700 miles of Tennessee streams as polluted by too much E. coli, and it has only evaluated about half of the stream miles statewide. The Clean Water Act is an essential tool in TCWN’s efforts to clean up these polluted streams and this resolution on the definitions in the Act will help us to better focus our activities on preventing and stopping water pollution,” Hoyos added.

For the past decade, there has been confusion over which streams and wetlands are covered by the Clean Water Act because of polluter friendly court decisions and subsequent Bush administration policies.  This confusion has put the drinking water of over 117 million people at risk. One in three Americans relies on public drinking water supplies that are fed by headwater or seasonally flowing streams.

The proposed rule clarifies protections for about two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands and other waters based on the copious science showing these types of waters have a significant physical, chemical, or biological connection to traditionally navigable or interstate waters. The proposed rule preserves the existing Clean Water Act exemptions for farming, forestry, mining and certain other land use activities. When finalized, this “waters of the United States” rule will bolster the Clean Water Act’s legal and scientific foundation, provide greater long-term certainty for landowners, and protect the streams, wetlands and other waters that feed our Nation’s rivers, lakes and bays. 

“This proposed rule is long overdue and will benefit millions of people in Tennessee and all across the country” said Hoyos.  “The rule is a critical step toward protecting streams and wetlands that feed our drinking water supplies, filter pollutants and safeguard communities from flooding.”

TCWN urges the Administration to finalize this strong rule to restore protections to all water, including seasonal wetlands and other waters. Every water body is important and a strong rule will improve the health of our nation’s rivers, lakes, and bays, which depend on the smaller water bodies that feed into them,” Hoyos added.

For more information on the proposed EPA rule, visit the EPA website at http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations.  Information on TCWN’s programs and activities can be found at www.tcwn.org.

 

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues.

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Great Looks and Clean Water!!!

  Contact:   Renée Victoria Hoyos – 865.522.7007 x100 or 865.607.6618 (cell)

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 25, 2014

 

Great Looks and Clean Water!

Help TCWN Protect Tennessee’s Rivers and Lakes By Visiting Aveda Salons in April

 

Knoxville, Tennessee – As part of their annual Earth Month Celebration in April, participating Aveda Salons in Tennessee will be donating a portion of their proceeds to help the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) protect drinking water by improving water quality in the state’s rivers and lakes.

            “TCWN is honored to be the designated organization for the Tennessee Aveda salons this year,” said TCWN Executive Director Renee Hoyos.  “Aveda’s mission of helping to improve water quality and to provide clean drinking water for people both in the US and around the world matches our mission.  We appreciate their willingness to support organizations such as TCWN through their salon giving program.”

            “The work we do to clean up creeks, rivers and lakes as well as forcing municipalities and companies to honor their clean water permit commitments is expensive and time consuming.  Every donation to TCWN counts, so I encourage all Tennesseans to visit their nearest Aveda salon in April for a great look while helping to protect water quality in our state,” Hoyos added.

Allysum Mire is the Executive Director of Sales for Tennessee with Neill-TSP, the Aveda distributor in the Volunteer State.  Mire said that Aveda has been celebrating Earth Month since 1999 and has raised more than $32 million for a range of environmental issues in that time.  “Since 2007, Aveda has focused on the issue of clean water and has raised more than $26 million for water projects in many places including Florida’s Everglades, The Rocky Mountains and the Gulf Coast.  The donations from our customers also help get clean drinking water to families in the Far East, India and East Africa,” Mire added.

“Aveda is committed to environmental leadership and developing botanically based and effective products since the company was founded.  Earth Month is an important way to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and help raise awareness and funds for critical issues like clean water,” said Katie Calloway, Aveda’s Earth Fund Director.

Joshua Cunningham, TCWN’s Sustainability Coordinator, has been working with the staff members at the individual salons to explain the important work TCWN does in protecting the state’s rivers and lakes and how that protects the water everyone drinks.

“I explain that Tennessee’s rivers and lakes are the primary source of drinking water for most Tennesseans,” Cunningham said.  “There are decisions we make every day that impact water quality, and I am passing on this information to the hair stylists to explain to their clients. “

“For example, one of TCWN’s projects is to encourage people to use refillable water bottles as it takes three quarts of water and ¼ quart of oil to produce one quart of bottled water.   Not to mention the waste that occurs when all those plastic bottles are thrown away, sometimes thrown away on the side of the road.”

“TCWN is also encouraging individuals to fill those refillable water bottles with tap water through our ‘Bringing Tap Back’ project.  Using plain tap water is very environmentally friendly, and it highlights the need for clean, safe drinking water in the state.  The Aveda staff I have spoken with are eager to be part of TCWN’s work by raising funds for TCWN during the company’s Earth Month Celebration,” Cunningham added.

To find the Aveda Salon nearest to you, go to the company’s website at www.aveda.com.  More information on TCWN’s programs and projects can be found at www.tcwn.org.

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues.

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TCWN Doubles the Size of the Williams Creek Urban Forest in East Knoxville

 

Feb. 26, 2014 – Tennessee Clean Water Network Executive Director Renee Hoyos announced today the acquisition of several properties adjoining the Williams Creek Urban Forest which doubled the size of the nature site in East Knoxville.

                TCWN closed on lots on Daily, Trigg and Kurtzmn streets Tuesday, which totaled about 5 acres in size.  The boundaries of the existing properties in the Williams Creek Urban Forest total about 5 acres, and the new property doubles  the size of the forest to approximately 10 acres.  The Williams Creek Urban Forest is between Brooks Ave. and South Chestnut Street and bound by Biddle and Trigg streets to the east and west.

                “This is very exciting as we have been working on acquiring these properties for several years,” Hoyos said.  “This property is designated to be an urban forest restoration project that will return the property to its natural state in several years with passive uses including a greenway and outdoor classrooms included in the long-term plan for the area.”

                “These properties were purchased using generous grants TCWN received from the Aslan and Alcoa Foundations.  We appreciate their continued financial support of TCWN’s efforts to promote healthier communities across Tennessee.”

                Hoyos said TCWN will deed the new properties to the City of Knoxville for its parks system as has been done with the original five acres of property.  “Williams Creek is listed on the Tennessee List of Impaired Waterbodies for habitat alteration and e. coli contamination.  This project will attempt to remove the creek from that list of polluted waterbodies and make it more of a benefit to the surrounding neighborhoods.  I appreciate the help the City of Knoxville is providing in being a partner on this project.”

                The first step in restoring the property was the introduction of a herd of goats last summer to help control invasive weeds and plants.  “The goats are returning again this summer for some fine dining on the kudzu, privet and other invasive species growing on the property.  Using the goats is a very economical way to control these invasive species in an environmentally friendly manner.”

                “The goats will be returning again in the summer of 2014 to begin clearing put the underbrush on the new property.  We will also be using volunteer groups and inmate work crews from the Knox County Sheriff’s Department to help clear out the trash, tires and invasive weeds as well,” Hoyos added.

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About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues.  For more information, visit the TCWN website at www.tcwn.org.

MASSIVE GULF DEAD ZONE SIGNIFIES LACK OF ACTION BY EPA, STATES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      July 29, 2013

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

 

            Susan Heathcote, Water Program Director                   Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director

            IA Environmental Council                                           Gulf Restoration Network

            (515) 244-1194 x 205                                                 (504) 525-1528 x 202

            [email protected]                                    [email protected]

                                                           

                                                           

 

 

New Orleans, LA—This week, scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium completed their annual measurement of the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone, which measured 5,800 square miles, larger than the state of Connecticut.

 

The Dead Zone is an area of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River which is oxygen-deprived due to excess nitrogen and phosphorus pollution coming primarily from agricultural sources throughout the Basin as far north as the River’s source in Minnesota.

 

In addition to causing the Dead Zone in the Gulf, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is affecting waters throughout the Mississippi River Basin and its tributaries, threatening wildlife and recreation, and rendering drinking water unsafe.

 

“Record-high nitrate pollution levels in May through July have forced the City of Des Moines, Iowa to use a nitrate removal system and blend water from other sources just to deliver safe drinking water to over 500,000 Iowans,” said Susan Heathcote, Water Program Director for the Iowa Environmental Council, a member of the Mississippi River Collaborative.

 

Despite voluntary initiatives to reduce nutrient pollution which have been encouraged by EPA and other states, the Dead Zone has only grown bigger. This lack of effective action forced members of the Mississippi River Collaborative to file suit against EPA in 2012 in an attempt to get the agency to set and enforce numeric standards for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

 

“EPA told states to develop numeric nitrogen and phosphorus limits 15 years ago,” stated Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director for the Gulf Restoration Network, a Mississippi River Collaborative member organization. “EPA has since spent the last decade and a half repeatedly pushing back deadlines for reducing Dead Zone-causing pollution.”

 

Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is a key concern for the Mississippi River Collaborative, a partnership of environmental organizations and legal centers working to protect the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

 

# # #

 

The Mississippi River Collaborative is a partnership of environmental organizations in states bordering the Mississippi River as well as regional and national groups and legal centers working on issues affecting the Mississippi River and its tributaries. www.msrivercollab.org

Conservation groups raise concerns about impact of proposed mine on wildlife and water

For Immediate Release:
July 12, 2013

 

Contact:        

Stephanie Matheny, Tennessee Clean Water Network, cell 865.244.5121, [email protected] 

Axel Ringe, Sierra Club TN Chapter, 865.397.1840

Jane Davenport, Defenders of Wildlife, 202.772.3274

Casey Self, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, 703.568.0736

 

Nashville, TN – Local and national conservation groups are raising concerns about the degradation of local creeks and the Clear Fork of the Cumberland River by the proposed 578-acre Clear Fork Surface Mine in Claiborne County, Tennessee. 

 

The Tennessee Clean Water Network (“TCWN”), Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (“SOCM”), have filed a petition with the Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil and Gas to seek review of the decision by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”) that degradation of Rock Creek, Straight Creek and the Clear Fork of the Cumberland River is justified by economic and social necessity.

 

“The last thing Claiborne County needs is another strip mine,” said TCWN attorney Stephanie Matheny.  “Strip mining does not provide sustainable economic opportunities, harms the quality of life for people who live in the nearby communities and destroys water quality.”

 

The groups allege that TDEC violated Tennessee’s Antidegradation Statement, which prohibits lowering of water quality in rivers that are designated as Exceptional Tennessee Waters, including several of the receiving streams for the Clear Fork mine, except in very limited circumstances.

 

 “The antidegradation rule is not a mere formality,” explained Axel Ringe of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club.  “It requires TDEC to show that alternatives to more pollution – including better treatment – are not feasible.  The mining company also has to demonstrate that degradation is economically or socially necessary and will not harm existing water quality.  None of that happened here.”

 

The organizations are particularly concerned that this mine, along with several other new mines recently proposed in the same vicinity, might further harm the federally threatened blackside dace.  “Blackside dace are barely surviving in the Clear Fork watershed.  The health of this little fish is linked to our own health. If our waters are too polluted for the dace, they will be too polluted for the local community as well,” said Jane Davenport, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife.

 

“We support the development of a vibrant economy for local residents that also preserves water quality and community vitality. This mine is only likely to operate for a few short years, yet the detrimental results will impact the community for years to come,” added Ann League of SOCM.

 

For a copy of the petition and other documents, go to www.tcwn.org/cleanwater1.

 

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The Goats are Coming! The Goats are Coming!

MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release:  July 1, 2013

Contact:   Renée Victoria Hoyos – 865.522.7007 x100 or 865.607.6618 (cell)

 

The Goats are Coming! The Goats are Coming!

 

Knoxville, TN –

 

The Tennessee Clean Water Network working with WhistlePig Farms and the City of Knoxville will be using goats to clear invasive weeds on the Williams Creek Urban Forest. The goats will arrive on July 3 11:00 – 1:00, at 0 Daily St, Knoxville TN and stay through in the forest through October 2013. The press and interested parties are invited to welcome the goats to East Knoxville.

 

The Williams Creek Urban Forest properties were deeded to the City of Knoxville in June 2012. With support from the Aslan Foundation, TCWN has been able to work on restoring the creek and surrounding properties.  The restoration plan includes using goats to combat invasive species over a three year period, creating a trail through the property, acquiring additional properties to enlarge the urban forest and to work with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to remove Williams Creek from the list of impaired waterbodies.

 

“I am very excited to see the goats finally get on the property.” Said Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network. “The City of Knoxville has been a fabulous partner. They have been very supportive of this project from the beginning. We’ve been working together on a number of issues including closing Daily St to prevent more trash dumping and helping with the implementation of the trail.” 

 

Williams Creek is listed on the Tennessee List of Impaired Waterbodies for habitat alteration and e.coli contamination. This project will attempt to remove Williams Creek from the list of polluted waterbodies and create an interpretive trail through the forest.

 

 

TDEC Uses Scare Tactics to Suppress Citizen Complaints About Water Pollution

Knoxville, TN

June 21, 2013

 

 

In an article in today’s Nashville Tennessean, Mr. Sherwin Smith deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, said ““We take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously.  But you need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there’s no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.”

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130621/NEWS02/306210110/Official-Water-complaints-could-act-terrorism-

 

The undersigned organizations believe, while Mr. Smith clarifies his statement once pressed and is likely accurate in his facts, we believe it was an unnecessarily drastic and inappropriate comparison for a TDEC employee to use when describing our rights as citizens to participate in the public process. It appears to be a scare tactic employed by the state to quash this particular group's efforts to protect their drinking water. We adamantly oppose the state attempting to scare groups into silence, especially equating their actions with terrorism. 

 

“The residents of Tennessee have a right under the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act to lodge complaints with the Commissioner of TDEC and TDEC is required to respond to them within 90 days.” Said Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of TCWN. “Invoking images of Homeland Security and terrorism related to complaining about a public water supply suppress the people’s voice.”

 

Organizations:

Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director, TN Clean Water Network

Keven Routon, Chapter Chair, Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club

Stewart Clifton, Tennessee Conservation Voters

Amelia Parker, Executive Director, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment

 

 

 

Media Contact:

Renée Hoyos

Cell: 865-607-6618, Office: 865-522-7007 x100

Email: [email protected]

Groups Act to Protect Endangered Species from Destructive Coal Mining in TN

For Immediate Release: May 16, 2013

Contact:
Sean Sarah, Sierra Club, 330 338-3740 [email protected]
Gregory Buppert, Defenders of Wildlife, 202-772-3225 [email protected]
Casey Self, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, 865-249-7488
Stephanie Matheny, Tennessee Clean Water Network, 865-522-7007 [email protected]

 

Groups Act to Protect Endangered Species from Destructive Coal Mining in Tennessee
Groups Allege that Federal Agencies Violated Endangered Species Act in TN Mining Approvals

 

Nashville, TN – Today, Defenders of Wildlife, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) and Sierra Club filed a first of its kind suit against the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service alleging that the government agencies violated the Endangered Species Act by approving mining permits for the Zeb Mountain and Davis Creek Area 5 surface mines in Tennessee. Sierra Club and its allies argue that OSM and the Service failed to fully consider the effects pollution from mining operations would have on the endangered Cumberland darter and the threatened blackside dace; two fresh water fish found primarily in the areas threatened by mining waste pollution from these sites. Specifically, the groups allege that OSM and the Fish and Wildlife Service have ignored the best science and data available that show how specific forms of mining pollution at these sites endanger the dace and darter.

 

“Extinction of endangered species is too high a price to pay for surface mining,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The Office of Surface Mining failed in its duty to ensure endangered species were protected when it granted mining permits at Zeb Mountain and Davis Creek. Mining pollution from these sites clearly poses a risk to the dace and darter; these permits should have never been allowed to go forward.”

 

The groups contend that high levels of water conductivity created by mining pollution put the future of the blackside dace and Cumberland darter at risk. Conductivity is a measure of the ability of fresh water to carry an electric current. The higher the conductivity level in Appalachian streams, the more pollutants are in the water and the greater the threat to certain species of aquatic life. Conductivity is measured in microSiemens per centimeter (µS/cm) with a safe level for the darter and dace being less than 240 µS/cm. However, tests of the water downstream from the Zeb mountaintop removal mine site show conductivity ranging from 538 to 886 µS/cm – far above safe levels for the fish. While Davis Creek Area 5 has not yet begun operations, like all other surface coal mines in Appalachia the new Davis Creek mine is extremely likely to cause conductivity in local streams to exceed levels that are safe for dace. In fact, in 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency reviewed state mining permits in Appalachia and found that none of them took steps to prevent pollution that increases conductivity in streams.

 

“What is remarkable here is that the Service and OSM have all of the studies showing that high conductivity caused by coal mining harms these fish” said Greg Buppert, staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. “They’ve simply been ignoring them for years.”

 

Further, the groups will argue that reliance on old and outdated science to determine the safety of endangered species at or near mountaintop removal sites is arbitrary and capricious. The Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to act on the best scientific data available to insure that any action an agency takes is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered species. Currently, OSM and the Service rely primarily on research completed in 1996. At that time, the effects of conductivity on fresh water fish were unknown. Empirical studies undertaken since then show a strong correlation between elevated conductivity and harm to blackside dace and Cumberland darters. Because the agencies did not take that information under consideration, the groups contend, not only is there a clear violation of the Endangered Species Act, but populations of these two species are at risk of being wiped out.

 

 “Species like the dace and darters are totally vulnerable to destructive human activity in their watersheds, but can do nothing about it,” said Cathie Bird, a member of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment. “The very least we humans can do is to demand that permitting agencies start with the best science available, then continually update their assessments of potential harm as new data comes along.”

 

 

Mountaintop removal and other forms of surface mining have already caused a significant decrease in the dace and darter populations. Mountaintop removal is an extremely destructive form of coal mining. Mines clear-cut timber and undergrowth, blast open the earth, and destroy streams. This devastating practice poisons drinking water, lays waste to wildlife habitat, increases risk of flooding, and wipes out entire communities. Mountaintop removal operations frequently contaminate local water sources. They release toxic pollutants such as selenium and heavy metals. Communities near mountaintop removal mines experience elevated rates of serious health problems such as cancer and birth defects.

 

“Strip mining in Tennessee has polluted our waters to the point that native fish like blackside dace and Cumberland darters are barely holding on,” said TCWN Attorney Stephanie Matheny.  “If the water is too dirty for the fish, it can’t be good for people either.”

 

“Our mountain waterways and aquatic ecosystems are precious resources that need to be protected for future generation,” said Rita Chadwell, Sierra Club member. “They are something for our communities and region to be proud of.  I take pride in knowing that Davis Creek which runs in front of my home is special and provides a unique habitat for sensitive and rare species like the blackside dace. Davis Creek has suffered enough pollution from mining and should be left alone so the blackside dace populate can recover and my community can have a safe body of water for recreation.” 

 

The litigation was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Defenders of Wildlife, SOCM, TCWN and Sierra Club are represented in this action by Greg Buppert from Defenders of Wildlife and Stephanie Matheny of Tennessee Clean Water Network.

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TCWN releases report on TDEC’s enforcement program

PRESS RELEASE

 

For Immediate Release: April 15, 2013

Contact:   Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director, 865.522.7007 x100 (o) or 865.607.6618 (c)

 

TCWN releases report on TDEC’s enforcement program

 

Knoxville, TN

 

Today the Tennessee Clean Water Network released the third in a series of reports on the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s water protection programs. The research shows a 75% reduction in enforcement actions taken by TDEC since 2007. This latest report analyzes the past two years of enforcement and focuses on why there has been a significant decline in enforcement actions.

 

Several enforcement trends remain the same:

 

  • High fine forgiveness continues, meaning violators pay less.
  • There is no geographic focus for enforcement actions – only half of the counties in Tennessee had enforcement actions in 2011, this dropped to a third of them in 2012, with no indication the Department is discriminatory regarding where enforcement occurs.
  • Construction activities continue to dominate the type of violators receiving enforcement – construction and development activities made up over half of all enforcement taken in the past two years.

 

Fine reductions remain the biggest problem. The fine assessment process is inconsistent, resulting in low fine collection up-front. The result is that Tennesseans bear the costs of pollution rather than the polluter.

 

 “The severe decline in enforcement of our water rules is inexplicable,” says Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of TCWN. “Allowing violators to escape proper enforcement sends the wrong message: that you can come to Tennessee, pollute our rivers and streams and receive little or no punishment.”

 

The report addresses a few potential reasons enforcement has declined, but points out TCWN’s own work proves there is no shortage of violations throughout the state. TCWN has initiated multiple citizen enforcement actions across the state seeking correction and penalties for water quality permit violations.

This year’s report also compares TDEC’s policies to what actually happens in enforcement orders and determines there is little consistency. What the Department does actually contradicts its written procedures.

 

“Over half of the mandatory fines paid to the Department are under $2000. Does this cover the cost to the state of enforcement and remediation? Or are Tennesseans paying for it?” asked Ms. Hoyos. “We are calling on TDEC Commissioner Martineau to assure his staff and the public the Department is still committed to effective enforcement. We also urge TDEC to assess fines suitable to cover the costs so it does not continue to be the burden of the taxpayer.” 

 

 

 

To read the report and learn more about the Tennessee Clean Water Network, go to http://tcwn.org/programs.

 

 

##

 

P. O. Box 1521    Knoxville, Tennessee 37901

office: 865.522.7007    fax: 865.525.4988    website: www.tcwn.org

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TDEC Allows Tennessee Valley Recycling to Pollute for 6 Months

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release March 6, 2013

Contact:          Stephanie Matheny, 865-522-7007 x 102 or 865-244-5121

Yesterday, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”) issued the final permit for pollutant discharges from Tennessee Valley Recycling’s (“TVR”) Pulaski, TN metal scrap yard.  The permit allows TVR to discharge unlimited amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”), total suspended solids, and oil and grease until September 2013, effectively rewarding the company for its chronic permit violations with a six-month compliance holiday.

 

“The people of Pulaski have a right to expect more from TDEC,” said Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network (“TCWN”).  “TDEC should not reward bad behavior with a free pass to pollute.”

 

“TDEC has no legal basis for eliminating permit limits for six months,” added TCWN Attorney Stephanie Matheny.  “But, then again, TDEC had proposed to completely eliminate the limits, so the permit is not as bad as it might have been.”

 

The new permit retains the old limit for total suspended solids, imposes a more stringent limit for PCBs, and eliminates the zinc limit.  However, while the old permit required TVR to report its PCB discharges every month, the new permit requires TVR to do so only four times per year.  “Based on its own signed reports, TVR discharges PCBs much more often than four times a year.  TDEC is basically saying TVR can discharge unlimited PCBs the other 361 days per year,” said Matheny.

 

The permit is closely related to ongoing enforcement activities.  TCWN sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue TVR in August 2012 for chronic violations of PCB and solids limits.  In its response to public comments, TDEC claims it had issued an enforcement order with a $65,000 penalty.  But, what TDEC does not tell the public is that the order gives TVR a free pass on its PCB violations or that TVR only has to pay $16,250 of this penalty.

 

TDEC also notes TVR cleaned out its pond in November 2012, but fails to mention that TVR nonetheless reported a PCB violation in December 2012, and solids violations in December 2012 and January 2013.  “TVR is a chronic violator, going back for many years.  We need some serious enforcement, not just a slap on the hand,” noted Hoyos. 

 

For more information, including copies of the permit, comments, and order, go to http://tcwn.org/cleanwater1.

TCWN FILES 60-DAY NOTICE OF INTENT TO SUE TENNESSEE VALLEY RECYCLING FOR PCB VIOLATIONS

 

Pulaski, TN.  The Tennessee Clean Water Network (“TCWN”) filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue Tennessee Valley Recycling (“TVR”) for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act on August 20, 2012.  

 

 

TVR recycles scrap metal at its Pulaski, Tennessee facility, and discharges polluted stormwater to Richland Creek just downstream from the city’s drinking water intake.  This stormwater contains high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), total suspended solids (“TSS”), and zinc that exceed limits set to protect water quality and human health.  

 

 

Based on a review of TVR’s discharge reports, TCWN alleges that TVR has violated its PCB limit at least 26 times since December 2010, with exceedances ranging up to 166 times the limit.  “These chronic and severe violations need to stop now, either through aggressive enforcement or through revocation of the permit,” said TCWN Executive Director Renée Victoria Hoyos.  

 

 

PCBs are highly toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative.  PCBs were used in electrical equipment, fluorescent light ballasts, and a variety of consumer products until they were banned in 1979.  Unfortunately, many of these old products remain in circulation, and may be recycled at scrap yards like TVR’s.  Once released to rivers and streams, PCBs enter the food web and accumulate in fish tissue, potentially exposing people who consume these fish to high levels of PCBs.  PCBs have the potential to cause cancers and affect the immune system, nervous system, and reproductive system in humans.  It has been found that elevations in blood pressure, serum triglyceride, and serum cholesterol have been reported with increasing serum levels of PCBs in humans.

 

 

“PCBs are nothing to mess around with.  These are very toxic pollutants that should be kept out of our waterways,” said Ms. Hoyos.

 

 

In addition to alleging PCB violations, TCWN’s Notice of Intent cites 22 violations of the TSS limit, 13 violations of the zinc limit, and numerous violations of monitoring and reporting requirements.  Each violation is subject to a civil penalty to be paid to the U.S. Treasury of up to $37,500 per day.

 

 

Unfortunately, TVR and its predecessor, Denbo Scrap Metals, have an extensive history of violating permit requirements.  According to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”) files, it took Denbo about a decade after it first opened – including four years after a TDEC order - to install even a settling pond.  When issuing the current permit, TDEC stated TVR had committed “multiple permit infractions too numerous to list here.” In October 2006, TDEC took the extraordinary step of threatening to revoke the permit, but instead directed TVR to relocate its outfall below the city’s drinking water intake and build a new pond.

 

 

For the complete Notice Letter, click here.

 

 

###

 

Tennessee Clean Water Network settles with the City of Chattanooga over Sanitary Sewer Overflows

 
PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: July 17, 2012
Contact:   Renée Victoria Hoyos – 865.522.7007 x100
 
Tennessee Clean Water Network settles with the City of Chattanooga over Sanitary Sewer Overflows
 
Chattanooga TN –
 
The Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) settled today with the City of Chattanooga (the City) to fix sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), particularly large volume discharges from the West Bank and East Bank outfalls, and other alleged discharge violations.  To read the consent decree, click here for the consent decree and here for the appendices.
 
According to Renée Victoria Hoyos, TCWN’s Executive Director, “This mutual partnership between EPA, the State, TCWN and Chattanooga will help protect the health of the Tennessee River and its tributaries, and the people who use and enjoy them.  We applaud the City for its commitment to environmental stewardship.”
 
“The Consent Decree calls for a comprehensive fix to the City’s entire sewer system, which will result in a substantial improvement in water quality over time,” said TCWN Staff Attorney Stephanie Matheny. The Consent Decree will be implemented in two phases.  During the first phase – which lasts five years – the City will focus on the high priority projects (the Early Action Capital Projects listed in Appendix C) it has identified as causing the bulk of the alleged permit violations.  The City will also develop and implement a Phase I sewer repair program that will rehabilitate approximately 15% of the sewershed in areas with streams polluted by pathogens typically found in sewage. These improvements are expected to eliminate discharges from the West Bank and East Bank outfalls and reduce SSOs. In the second phase, the City will develop and implement a full suite of additional plans designed to improve operation and maintenance of its sewer system.
 
The settlement will require the City to complete the process of bringing its combined sewer system up to current federal standards.  Chattanooga’s combined sewer system – which includes most of the downtown area - provides the benefit of treating stormwater at Moccasin Bend under typical rain conditions, but also creates the potential of overwhelming the sewage system when there is heavy rain.  When that happens, the City discharges partially treated – but not disinfected – combined stormwater and sewage from combined sewer outfalls to the Tennessee River and Chattanooga Creek.  Under the terms of the settlement, this City will develop a Long-Term Control Plan to better manage these discharges.  The Consent Decree also requires the City to address the Central Avenue and William Street CSO outfalls. These outfalls discharge to Chattanooga Creek, which is listed by TDEC as impaired for E. coli and low dissolved oxygen. 
 
“While some might have preferred that the City separate its entire sewer system, that simply is not practical from a cost standpoint, and it is not required for water quality,” said Stephanie Matheny.  “This Consent Decree recognizes that the City has made substantial investments in improving its combined sewer outfalls in recent decades, and will require the City to make the additional improvements required to fully protect our streams and rivers.”
 
The Consent Decree requires the City of Chattanooga to: pay a $238,200 civil penalty to the United States; implement an approximately $800,000 supplemental environmental project to restore a tributary of South Chickamauga Creek in lieu of additional federal penalties; and implement an approximately $238,200 Highland Park Green Infrastructure Project in lieu of state penalties.  By electing to implement these environmental projects, the City has ensured that its residents will benefit from what would otherwise have been paid in penalties. 
 
The public will have 30 days to review the Consent Decree. USEPA will also provide documents on its website during the public comment period.  The City of Chattanooga will post all documents related to the settlement in a document repository on its website, which it will maintain throughout the life of the Consent Decree.  The City will also encourage community input over time through its Wastewater Regulations and Appeals Board. 
 
“TCWN encourages local residents to get involved and stay involved.  There is a lot of work to be done, and local input is critical to ensuring it is done right,” said Renée Hoyos.
 
This case began in 2010 after TCWN discovered that the City had reported 32 unpermitted discharges totaling at least 319 million gallons of raw sewage mixed with stormwater from the West Bank and East Bank outfalls directly to the Tennessee River in the previous four years.  TCWN also identified 489 additional SSOs totaling nearly 35 million gallons in the same time period, with a trend toward increasing numbers of SSOs over time.  TCWN also found dry weather combined sewer overflows, monitoring and reporting violations, and exceedances of E. coli limits in the discharge from the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant.
 
As a result, on August 2, 2010, TCWN filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the City for these and other alleged permit violations and filed their suit on October 13, 2010.  USEPA and TDEC then participated with TCWN and the City in the negotiations that led to this settlement.
 
“The problem of sanitary sewer overflows is not just a Chattanooga problem,” said Ms. Hoyos.  “These problems occur throughout Tennessee and the nation.  Federal funding for infrastructure improvements has declined in recent years and municipalities have struggled to pay for needed repairs and maintenance.  Until we see dedicated funding to maintain our sewage treatment plants, we will continue to have contamination of our streams, rivers, lakes and communities.”

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TCWN Settles with Mascot Zinc Tailings Ponds Owner

 

July 12, 2012 

For Immediate Release 

Contact: Renée Victoria Hoyos, 865.522.7007 x100 or 865.607.6618

 

Mascot, TN.  The Tennessee Clean Water Network (“TCWN”) lodged a proposed consent decree with Mine Road Properties, LLC for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act on July 5, 2012.   Mine Road Properties, LLC owns an approximately 118-acre site in Mascot, TN that was historically used to process and store tailings from nearby zinc mines.  The Mine Road site has discharged a milky-white mixture of crushed limestone laced with heavy metals into Flat Creek, a tributary to the Holston River, for decades without any regulatory controls.

 

Immediately upon receipt of the 60-day notice of intent to sue for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, Mine Road Properties, LLC and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”) worked with TCWN to create a plan to prevent polluted stormwater from reaching Flat Creek.  The plan includes structures to prevent, slow, and treat runoff.  Implementation of the plan will qualify the site for the required Clean Water Act permit, which will prohibit discharges that cause pollution.

 

TCWN is very happy with the results.

 

“We’ve been hearing about the site for years.” Says Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of TCWN. “I’m glad we were able to come to a swift agreement to fix the problem. Now the work begins.”   

 

TCWN’s review of files at TDEC found that the state had inspected the site back in 2003 but had not done anything to fix this long-standing environmental problem.  

 

“TCWN got involved because the state looked at the site and did not figure out how to regulate it,” said TCWN Staff Attorney Stephanie Matheny.  “We did the research, and determined the Clean Water Act was the best vehicle to stop the ongoing pollution problem.  We are confident the corrective action plan and compliance with the new discharge permit will have a significant positive impact on water quality.”

 

 

For all documents related to this suit, go to http://www.tcwn.org/cleanwater1

 

Hearing on Regulations to Protect Water Quality from the Dangers of Hydrofracking Concerned community groups rally to protect water quality in Tennessee

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE

 

Knoxville, TN

 

Contact:  Sandra Goss, Executive Director, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning (865) 522-3809

 

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will hold two public hearings Tuesday, July 10, 2012 about proposed new rules regarding hydrofracking, a technique used to extract natural gas. The hearings are scheduled for 2:00 pm and 6:00 p.m. The hearings will be held at the Knoxville Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Field Office at 3711 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, TN 37921. The public is encouraged to attend.

 

Hydrofracking has gained favor among oil and gas companies because it provides access to previously unreachable natural gas pockets in shale rock in an economical manner.  Pennsylvania, New York, and other states have experienced pollution of groundwater and surface water resources that is believed to be related to hydrofracking.  Hydrofracking is becoming more prevalent in Tennessee, especially in Fentress, Morgan, Overton and Scott counties.  

 

Several organizations that are concerned about negative impacts of hydrofracking on water and air quality worked together to write rules that would limit the damaging effects to ground and surface water from these practices.  

 

“We urge Tennesseans who want to protect drinking water to support stronger regulations that protect water resources.  It is important to send in comments to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation before July 20, and to speak in support of stronger regulations at the July 10 hearing,” said Ms. Goss, Executive Director of Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning  

 

For more information about fracking and the upcoming public hearings, visit  http://www.tcwn.org/frack

 

 

###

 

Tennessee Gives Free Pass to Dirty TVA Coal Plant Environmental Groups Take Legal Action to Protect Clean Water

 
 
For Immediate Release: July 2, 2012
 
Contacts:
Renée Victoria Hoyos, Tennessee Clean Water Network, (865) 522.7007 x100, [email protected]
Josh Galperin, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, (865) 637.6055 X 23, [email protected]
Axel C. Ringe, TN Chapter Sierra Club, (865) 397-1840, [email protected]
Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice, (212) 791-1881 x8221, [email protected]
Abel Russ, Environmental Integrity Project, (202) 263-4453, [email protected]
Michelle Haynes, (615) 452-7500, [email protected]

 
Tennessee Gives Free Pass to Dirty TVA Coal Plant 
Environmental Groups Take Legal Action to Protect Clean Water
 
Nashville, Tennessee – Community and environmental groups appealed a pollution permit issued to Tennessee Valley Authority ("TVA") for its Gallatin coal-fired power plant to prevent toxic discharges of heavy metals and other harmful waste byproducts of burning coal.  The plant’s polluted wastewaters are dumped into unlined ponds that allow pollution to continue to harm the environment.
 

In addition to the toxic discharges, Gallatin’s water cooling intake system routinely kills tens of thousands of fish and other aquatic life that become trapped in the structures every year.  The group is asking that Gallatin use better technology to protect fish and other aquatic life.
 

The appeal, filed with the Tennessee Water Quality Control Board, challenges the wastewater discharge permit from the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation (TDEC) based on its failure to include any limits at all on the discharge of toxic metals.  EPA, which has recognized that coal plants are among the top dischargers of toxics in the nation, had informed TDEC that these discharge limits were required, but TDEC has refused to set them.   
 

“The water quality of the lake affects me on a daily basis, so I am outraged that the TDEC would allow this plant to discharge toxic pollutants into Old Hickory Lake,” said Michelle Haines, who lives on Old Hickory Lake, adjacent to the Gallatin plant. “I am deeply concerned about myself, my family, our animals, and my community’s health and safety. Until TDEC takes proper action, I believe it’s too dangerous to swim, fish, or boat in the water.”
 
The groups also challenges TDEC’s refusal to impose any permit conditions designed to protect fish.  While the Clean Water Act requires coal plants to minimize harm to fish and other aquatic life, the Gallatin Fossil Plant uses an outdated cooling system with water intake structures that suck enormous numbers of fish into the works of the coal plant and kills them.
 
“Gallatin has polluted Tennessee’s water since the 1950’s. In all that time, TDEC has never seen fit to require modern pollution controls,” said Josh Galperin, with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “While the best way for TVA to stop this pollution is to retire the Gallatin plant and move away from burning dirty coal, they are unfortunately poised to spend nearly $1 billion to extend Gallatin’s life and actually increase the water pollution in this process. TDEC must act expeditiously to enforce strict pollution limits on the toxics this old coal plant dumps into the Cumberland River every day.”
 
The Tennessee Valley Authority (“TVA”) historically has operated some of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the country.  After years of litigation, TVA recently entered into a settlement that requires installation of modern air pollution controls, but the utility has not yet addressed its major water pollution and waste problems.

“TVA has been polluting water in Tennessee for too long.” said Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network. “We need limits on the amount of heavy metals and other pollutants that this old coal plant can dump into the Cumberland River every day.  TDEC can set these limits if they want to and we are asking that they do.” 
 
Almost four years ago, its Kingston Fossil Plant spilled over one billion gallons of toxic coal ash, killing nearby fish and wildlife and causing a mudflow wave of water and ash that covered 12 homes.  Cleanup of that spill continues today.  Weeks later, TVA’s Widows Creek Plant spilled over 10,000 tons of waste into in the Tennessee River in Alabama. 
 
 “Even TVA has promised that it is going to stop using these dangerous impoundments for their ash and wastewater, but TDEC has given them a permit that lets them go on with business as usual for another five years,” said Axel C. Ringe, Vice Conservation Chair of the Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club.
 
“TVA is doing nothing to reduce pollution and nothing to stop daily fish kills, and TDEC giving that do-nothing program its stamp of approval,” said Earthjustice attorney Abigail Dillen.  “If TVA wants to keep operating this old plant into the 21st century, it needs to invest in 21st pollution controls.”
 
Earthjustice represents the Tennessee Clean Water Network, the Sierra Club and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in the case. 

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TCWN: ‘Has The TDEC Commissioner Used His Position to Protect A Former Client?’

 

NASHVILLE, TN – MAY 15, 2012 - In a hostile action seeking to prevent a citizen suit by the Tennessee Clean Water Network (“TCWN”) under the federal Clean Water Act, the State of Tennessee filed a complaint in Davidson County Chancery Court against the Teknor Apex Tennessee Company just hours before TCWN could file its own lawsuit in federal court.  Teknor Apex was previously represented by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”) Commissioner Robert Martineau when he was in private practice.  “Commissioner Martineau has a clear conflict of interest in this case, and we can only hope the filing of this lawsuit is not just a brazen attempt to insulate a former client from effective enforcement,” TCWN Executive Director Renée Victoria Hoyos said.

 

“The State of Tennessee’s complaint comes after many years of inaction and complicity by TDEC in allowing Teknor Apex to rack up literally hundreds of days of violation of the Clean Water Act with the equivalent of a traffic ticket and a few written warnings,” Hoyos said. “Yet, TDEC’s own court filing shows Teknor Apex routinely exceeds permit limits on Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (“DEHP”), a toxic pollutant that is a potential endocrine disruptor, along with other pollutants,” she said.  

 

According to TCWN records, TDEC issued an agreed order negotiated with the company in 2005 imposing a meager $3,250 in penalties. That order required no mitigation for environmental harm, and simply restated that the company had to comply with the law without requiring it to take any specific action to bring itself into compliance. Teknor Apex has continued to violate its permit nearly every month, and TDEC has issued two notices of violation (“NOVs”) listing multiple pages of these violations, but has issued no further penalty and has done nothing to stop the company from polluting Tennessee waters.  One of these NOVs was issued on March 29, 2011, and was signed by TDEC’s Division of Water Pollution Control’s Manager of Compliance and Enforcement.  Teknor Apex also reported a significant spill to TDEC in November 2010, which resulted in no penalty or requirement for corrective action by TDEC. The 2011 NOV did not mention the spill, which had occurred only four months earlier.

 

While at TDEC on April 17, 2012, TCWN Staff Attorney Stephanie Matheny informed TDEC’s pretreatment program coordinator of a number of violations Teknor Apex had reported regarding its indirect discharges to the Brownsville Energy Company.  TCWN did not include these violations in its notice letter, and instead asked TDEC to take action. Tennessee did not include these violations in its complaint.

 

Tennessee also chose to file its case in state court, a maneuver that reduces the company’s potential liability from $37,500 per day per violation to $10,000.  TDEC operated in secret, failing to notify TCWN prior to taking this action even though it was clearly TCWN’s notice letter that spurred the State’s action.  TDEC also chose to bypass the opportunity for public notice afforded by an administrative penalty action before its Water Quality Control Board.  To TCWN’s knowledge, the State has not previously filed such a complaint directly in state court.  

 

TCWN has issued numerous 60-day notices in the past five years, but this is the first time TDEC has tried to preclude a TCWN lawsuit by filing a state court case. “This is a very unusual action for the State to take,” Matheny said, “TCWN has not seen it before.”

 

“We hope this is not just a sweetheart deal for a former client of Commissioner Martineau,” Hoyos said.  “Prior to TCWN’s notice letter, TDEC allowed Teknor Apex to routinely violate the Clean Water Act for years with little more than a slap on the hand.  Even now, TDEC has not sought to fully enforce the Act.”

 

The Clean Water Act allows citizens to file suit in federal court and obtain injunctive relief, civil penalties to be paid to the federal government of up to $37,500 per day per violation, and costs and fees of litigation.  However, citizens first have to file a notice letter with the violator, the State, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and then wait 60 days before filing suit, giving the agencies a final chance to diligently enforce the law. “We sent our notice letter because TDEC did not do its job,” Matheny said, “even though it was well aware of a pattern of serious violations. The State should not continue its secret backroom negotiations to give this chronic violator a favorable settlement.”

 

Current TDEC Commissioner Robert Martineau was a partner with Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis, LLP, prior to being appointed to his current position by TN Governor Bill Haslam.  Waller Lansden has long represented Teknor Apex (previously called the Haywood Company).  On January 5, 2009 – just two years before being sworn in as TDEC Commissioner - Martineau filed an appeal of a TDEC compliance order related to air violations on behalf of his then-client, Teknor Apex.  Martineau’s appeal claimed the penalties TDEC had imposed in that air compliance order were “excessive.”

 

Teknor Apex discharges DEHP to a tributary to Little Nixon Creek, which flows through an environmental justice community. “This community has been negatively affected for years by the polluted discharges coming from Teknor Apex, and TDEC has allowed that to happen.  TDEC’s history of enforcement is so weak that this suit in state court does not give us much reason to hope that the problem will finally be solved.” Says Hoyos.  

 

To read TCWN’s report on TDEC’s enforcement program, click here.

 

-30-

 

Renée Victoria Hoyos 865.522.7007 x 100 or 865.607.6618 (cell)

 

Tennessee Clean Water Network settles with the City of Memphis over Sanitary Sewer Overflows

 
PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release:  April 16, 2012
Contact:   Renée Victoria Hoyos – 865.522.7007 x100
 
Tennessee Clean Water Network settles with the City of Memphis over Sanitary Sewer Overflows
 
Memphis TN –
 
The Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) settled today with the City of Memphis (the City) to fix sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and foam discharges.
 
“We are very pleased with the results of the negotiation,” said Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network. “All parties worked hard to create a settlement that was fair that will lead to elimination of SSOs, better reporting and less floating foam.”
 
Through a series of file reviews and citizen complaints, TCWN discovered that the City reported 1,170 sewer overflows in a five year period.  Local kayakers contacted TCWN with photos complaining of foam coming from the M.C. Stiles Sewage Treatment Plant floating down the Mississippi River.  As a result, in December 2009 the TCWN filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the City for sanitary sewer overflows, visible floating foam, and other permit violations. 
 
On Day 60, The USEPA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation filed an enforcement action against the City of Memphis. TCWN intervened in the case to ensure that there was a citizen activist group at the table.
 
Under terms of the agreement the City of Memphis will assess 10% of the sewer system each year. In year 1, the City will concentrate on areas near Cypress and Cane Creeks where the system is the oldest and the creeks impaired for pathogens.  In year 2, the City will concentrate on the Lick Creek and close-in areas due to basement backups. The City has also committed to three large infrastructure projects, including the Wolf River Interceptor where a failure there could cause a major SSO to the Wolf River.
 
The settlement will also require the City to have written policies and procedures for operation and maintenance activities. 
 
One major problem identified in the consent decree was the disposal of fats, oil and grease (FOG) to the sewer system.  The City has taken proactive measures to educate the public about FOG with billboards and other public education tools.
 
TCWN has expressed disappointment, though, about the City’s refusal to do a Supplemental Environmental Project.  These projects can be performed in lieu of fines paid to the federal government and can assist communities most impacted by sewer overflows. Projects can range from low-interest loans to homeowners for repairs to lateral sewer lines or property acquisition to increase parkland.  The City instead chose to pay a fine of $645,000 to the Department of Justice.
 
The City did agree to perform a “color study” to determine the source of color that was causing a color contrast into the Mississippi River from the M.C. Stiles Plant and partial GIS mapping of the sewer system. The City prefers to employ the use of a “Sewer Bible” - a paper copy of the sewer system that employees use to manually update repairs and maintenance.  Cities of comparable size and smaller have moved to complete GIS mapping of the system to analyze their sewer system.
 
The public will have 30 days to review the consent decree. The City of Memphis will post all documents related to the settlement in a document repository on the City of Memphis website and copies will be available at the Central Library.    If you see an SSO, please report it immediately to the Department of Public Works (901) 576-6742.
 
“The problem of sanitary sewer overflows is not just a Memphis problem,” said Ms. Hoyos.  “These problems occur throughout Tennessee and the nation.  Federal funding for infrastructure improvements has declined in recent years and municipalities are squeamish to raise fees to pay for needed repairs and maintenance.  Until we see dedicated funding to maintain our sewage treatment plants, we will continue to have contamination of our streams, rivers, lakes and communities.”
 
 
 
###

TCWN files 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue Technor Apex For CWA Violations

 

March 19, 2012 

For Immediate Release 

Contact: Renée Victoria Hoyos, 865.522.7007 x100 or 865.607.6618

 

Brownsville, TN.  The Tennessee Clean Water Network (“TCWN”) filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue Teknor Apex Tennessee Company Haywood Plant (Teknor Apex) for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act on March 16, 2012.  

 

Teknor Apex is a privately held company that uses bis-(ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) in the production of vinyl products such as garden hoses. Phthalates are potentially potent endocrine disrupting chemicals. Teknor Apex has discharged as much as 4500% of the allowable limits for phthalates to Little Nixon Creek in the Forked Deer – South Fork Watershed.   Teknor Apex’s permit imposes limits on total suspended solids, oil and grease, biological oxygen demand, and phthalate esters, all of which the company routinely violates. In total, Teknor Apex has violated its permit at least 184 times in the past 5 years, roughly three times per month.

 

“This is one of the worst examples of corporate irresponsibility we have seen,” explained TCWN Executive Director Renée Hoyos. “Teknor Apex seems very proud of its environmental reputation, but quite frankly they have a lousy record of environmental compliance.  It will be a pleasure to fix this problem.”

 

According to its website, “Teknor Apex Company prides itself on its dedication and commitment to environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions.”

 

“I guess one solution is to illegally dump their waste in the creek.” Mused Ms. Hoyos. “TDEC’s woeful enforcement program has allowed them to get away with permit violations for years.”

 

TCWN’s review of files at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”) found that TDEC issued a Director’s Order in 2005, followed up with two notices of violation, which are largely fix-it tickets, in July 2008 and March 2011.  TDEC did a compliance inspection in 2006 finding “satisfactory ratings for all areas except for operating and maintenance and permit compliance.” TCWN does not consider this robust enforcement.

 

For the complete Notice Letter, click here.

 

 

###

 
 

Mississippi River Groups Hit EPA on Pollution that Fuels Gulf Dead Zone

(New Orleans, LA)— Today environmental groups challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) refusal to address a critical pollution problem it has acknowledged for decades.  

 

 

The two legal actions filed today seek action from the agency on nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, which stimulates excessive growth of algae, kick-starting a biological process that severely depletes oxygen levels in aquatic ecosystems and chokes marine life.  An enormous example of this problem is the “Dead Zone” that forms in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer.  In addition, toxic algae blooms result in fish kills, the death of livestock and pets, and damage to drinking water supplies.   Addressing Dead Zone pollution is thus necessary to restore health to the Gulf of Mexico and upstream waters of the Mississippi River Basin.

 

 

 “The ecology and economy of the Gulf of Mexico have paid the price for EPA’s endless dithering about Dead Zone pollution,” said Matt Rota, Director of Science and Water Policy with the non-profit Gulf Restoration Network. “The most meaningful action the EPA can take is to set limits on the amount of these pollutants allowed in the Mississippi River watershed so that the fish and the fisheries can recover.”

 

 

Members of the Mississippi River Collaborative, represented by the Natural Resources Defense Council, are challenging EPA’s denial of a 2008 petition to the agency asking EPA to establish quantifiable standards and cleanup plans for Dead Zone pollution.  Separately, several conservation groups are seeking to compel EPA to finally respond to an even older petition – a 2007 request that EPA modernize its decades-old pollution standards for sewage treatment plants and include Dead Zone pollution in those standards. 

 

 

“Decisive EPA action on Dead Zone pollutants is a decade overdue,” said Glynnis Collins, Executive Director of Illinois-based Prairie Rivers Network. “Illinois is the biggest contributor of agricultural pollution that creates this yearly crisis. With little action coming from the state, we clearly need an external push to be a more responsible neighbor."

 

 

When scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium completed their annual measurement of the 2011 Gulf Dead Zone, it measured 6,765 square miles - larger than the state of Connecticut—and it is growing, having doubled in size since 1985.  In the Gulf, the pollution harms the $2.8 billion fishing industry.

The unrelenting problem of excess nitrogen and phosphorous has also proven costly upstream. For example, seasonally the Raccoon and the Des Moines Rivers in Iowa carry excessive levels of nitrates, requiring special treatment before the water is safe enough for Des Moines-area residents to drink.  

 

 

The EPA called on states in 1998 to adopt specific limits on nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, and promised to enact its own limits if states had not complied by 2003. Every state along the Mississippi River ignored that deadline, and so far, only Wisconsin and Minnesota have taken effective action on their state’s contributions to the problem.  

 

 

EPA’s continued lack of leadership at a federal level is a serious problem because the Mississippi River flows through or forms the border of 10 states, no one of which can act independently to fully protect the River.  Only meaningful federal action by the EPA can unify states behind solutions that match the size of the problem at hand.  

 

 

While residents up and down the river continue to wait for EPA to accept its leadership responsibility, inland water pollution problems have multiplied while the Dead Zone makes its annual appearance as a great blemish on America’s record of commitment to clean water.

 

 

“Don’t think for a minute that the Tennessee River and its tributaries’ have no effect on nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River.” Says Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network. “The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has been woeful about requiring any meaningful limits in its permits of sewage treatment plants. Without federal guidance, TDEC will continue to allow nutrient pollution to flow down on our southern states.”

 

 

# # #

 

 

The Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) is a network of environmental, social justice, and citizens' groups and individuals committed to restoring the Gulf of Mexico to an ecologically and biologically sustainable condition.  www.healthygulf.org

 

 

Prairie Rivers Network, Illinois’ statewide leader in river protection, conservation, and restoration, works for clean water, healthy rivers, and an engaged public. http://prairierivers.org/

 

 

The Natural Resource Defense Council is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals. www.nrdc.org

 

 

The Mississippi River Collaborative is a partnership of environmental organizations and legal centers from states bordering the Mississippi River as well as regional and national groups working on issues affecting the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The Collaborative harnesses the resources and expertise of its diverse organizations to comprehensively reduce pollution entering the Mississippi River as well as the Gulf of Mexico.  www.msrivercollab.org

 

 

The Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) empowers Tennesseans to exercise their right to clean water and healthy communities by fostering civic engagement, building partnerships and advancing and when necessary, enforcing water policy for a sustainable future. www.tcwn.org

 

 

 

TCWN Issues 60-day Notice to Sue over Mascot Pollution

September 30, 2011
For Immediate Release
Contact: Renée Victoria Hoyos, 865.522.7007 x100 or 865.607.6618
 
Mascot, TN.  The Tennessee Clean Water Network (“TCWN”) filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue Mine Road Properties, LLC for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act on September 27, 2011. 
 
Mine Road Properties, LLC whose registered agent and manager is Oliver Smith, III, owns an approximately 118-acre site in Mascot, TN that was once used for the processing of zinc tailings.  Vast tailings ponds remain on the site creating a moonscape that can be seen from Google Earth.   As a result, the site discharges milky-white stormwater to Flat Creek every time it rains.  The white color comes from the crushed limestone that is left over from historic zinc processing at the former Mascot Mill across Flat Creek.  This limestone is laced with arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc.
 
TCWN wants to the property owner to keep the tailings contained on site or remove them completely and dispose of them properly.  
 
“Our goal is to get the place cleaned up – or at least to get some effective controls on the runoff.  The photos are really compelling.  They look like reverse negatives. The water is ghostly white. The dangerous pollution is the part you can’t see – the arsenic and the lead,” explained TCWN Executive Direction Renée Victoria Hoyos.
 
 
TCWN’s review of files at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”) found that TDEC inspected the site back in 2003 but has not done anything in the last eight years to address this egregious environmental problem. 
 
“These tailings ponds are visible from satellite images, appear on the topo maps of the area, and are well-known to local residents.  This is not a hidden problem: you can see the pollution from the Mascot Road bridge.  The time has long past to get this site under control,” said TCWN Staff Attorney Stephanie Matheny.  “Every time it rains more than just a sprinkle, the site discharges pollutants illegally.”
 
For the complete Notice Letter and photographs, click here.
 
###

Introducing the Duncan-Williams Dragon Boat Races in Memphis to support TCWN


 
March 29, 2011 
For Immediate Release
Contact: Penny Behling, 865.742.4306 or Renée Victoria Hoyos, 865.522.7007 x100
 
 
Memphis, TN - Teams are registering now for the first of an annual event that always makes a splash!
 
Registration for the inaugural Duncan-Williams Dragon Boat Races has officially opened. The event will be Saturday, September 24, 2011, at Mud Island River Park. Top prizes will be awarded, but the real winners are the beneficiaries of the event – the Tennessee Clean Water Network. Register online at www.memphis.racedragonboats.com.
 
Dating back more than 2,300 years, the most fun, unique cultural event featuring adrenaline-pumping action, dragon boat racing grows in worldwide popularity each year, and is the eighth fastest growing water sport. Teams rave about the excitement, friendly competition and community spirit surrounding the sport. Teams of 20 paddlers, a drummer and steersperson race in authentic 46-foot long dragon boats. All ages, skill levels and physiques can participate, making it the ultimate team building sport, requiring synchronicity and finesse, more than power to win. Off the water, teams compete to raise the most pledges for Tennessee Clean Water Network.
 
Memphis-based Duncan-Williams is the event’s Title sponsor. The diverse opportunities for team building, a healthy and positive way to engage employees and give back to the community appealed to the company.
 
Each team will get an on-water practice session with a trained coach the week prior to race day and compete in at least two heats on Saturday, September 24, 2011. Teams advancing to the Final Round will race for the title of Grand Cham­pion. More information is online at www.memphis.racedragonboats.com, or e-mail [email protected]. Call 877-580-RACE (7223).
 

TCWN settles Clean Water Act lawsuit with Knox County developer

Knoxville, TN - January 31, 2011
 
Today federal district Judge Thomas Phillips entered a consent decree resolving a citizen suit brought by the Tennessee Clean Water Network against local developer David Trantanella.  The lawsuit alleged that Mr. Trantanella had violated the Clean Water Act over the course of more than five years by discharging excessively muddy water from the 26-acre Casa Bella subdivision in East Knox County.
 
The Consent Decree imposes a numeric limit on turbidity.  “This is the first construction site in Tennessee to have to comply with a numeric limit,” said TCWN Staff Attorney Stephanie Matheny.  “Having a number makes it clear to everyone – including the developer – what is required.  The current permits basically say ‘don’t discharge too much sediment’ – that standard is really hard to enforce.”
 
Construction sites are a major cause of water pollution in Knox County.  Huge amounts of mud can be released from construction sites unless developers are diligent about their stormwater controls.  Too much mud in a stream transports chemicals, harms fish and aquatic life, creates flooding and damages private property.
 
“We are pleased that Mr. Trantanella has agreed to get his site under control and work to keep it that way,” said TCWN Executive Director Renée Victoria Hoyos.
 
“We want to put other Knox County developers on notice: the Tennessee Clean Water Network may be watching your sites,” continued Ms. Hoyos.  “The time for lax compliance is over.  If your site is polluting streams or harming downstream landowners, you need to clean up or you may be hearing from us, too.”
 
Under the Consent Decree, Mr. Trantanella will also pay $7,500 as a supplemental environmental project in lieu of a penalty to the federal government.  These funds will go to Conservation Fisheries, Inc to support reintroduction of native, non-game fish species in the Holston River watershed.
 
To see the consent decree and other document related to the case, click here.            .

TCWN sues Chattanooga for Sewer Overflows

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: October 13, 2010
Contact:   Renée Victoria Hoyos 865.522.7007 x100 or cell 865.607.6618
Tennessee Clean Water Network sues the City of Chattanooga for violations of the Clean Water Act from Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant
Location – Chattanooga, TN
 
On August 2, 2010, the Tennessee Clean Water Network issued a 60-day notice of intent to sue the City of Chattanooga for violating its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant and Combined Sewer System by unpermitted discharges by its West and East Bank Outfalls; unpermitted Sanitary Sewer Overflows; exceedances of the maximum E. coli limit; and monitoring and reporting violations.
 
On October 13, 2010 TCWN followed up on the notice and filed suit in federal court.
 
The suit alleges that from January 2006 – June 2010, the City illegally discharged 319 million gallons of untreated sewage.  Untreated sewage can contain viruses, pathogens and toxic chemicals that can harm human and aquatic health.
 
“Our biggest concern is the unauthorized discharge of sewage from the west and east bank outfalls. These outfalls have put millions of gallons of raw sewage directly into the Tennessee River,” Says Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of TCWN. “Many communities downstream draw their drinking water from the Tennessee River.  It is our biggest priority to work with the City to fix these overflows as soon as possible.”
 
The suit claims that in the same time period, the City had 489 sanitary sewer overflows that dumped nearly 35 million gallons of raw sewage into nearby creeks, road, business and private residences.
 
“If you see any water coming from a manhole, stay away from it,” caution’s TCWN’s Executive Director. “This is untreated sewage that may carry viruses, pathogens and toxic chemicals.  Do not let children or pet play in or around puddles that are near these manholes. Try not to drive through them if you can.  Raw sewage can be a human health hazard.”
 
“We are confident that we can work with the City to achieve a solution that will clean up these sewer overflows. We have worked well with other cities on similar issues and are looking forward to assisting the City in any way we can.” Says TCWN’s Executive Director.  “To be fair, if the State had stepped in years ago and required that the City fix this problem, we would not be here today.”The Tennessee Clean Water Network has been very critical of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s enforcement program.  In a report release earlier this year TCWN described the program as woeful.
 
“In 2008, TDEC completed just 204 enforcement actions against polluters statewide. So far in 2010, the number of enforcement actions has dropped to 135 statewide.  Without robust enforcement, people like the residents of Chattanooga have to live with pollution that can harm their health. While we understand that enforcement may be unpopular in some circles, putting communities at risk for waterborne disease is no option,” says TCWN’s Executive Director, Renée Victoria Hoyos. “The Clean Water Act gives citizen’s the right to sue and that is what we have had to do.  These violations have been polluting Chattanooga’s streams and rivers for many years and they need to stop.”
 
TCWN has had success in a similar citizen suit.  In 2004, TCWN filed suit against the Knoxville Utility Board that was settled after the United States Environmental Protection Agency intervened which resulted in a consent order.  KUB has worked hard to comply with the order and has dramatically reduced their sanitary sewer overflows.
 
Untreated sewage can harbor pathogens, bacteria and chemicals that are unsafe. A recent Emory University study indicates that combined sewer overflow systems attract the mosquito responsible for the West Nile Virus.  To read the abstract of this study, click here.
 
To see the complaint and the notice letter, go to http://www.tcwn.org/cleanwater1
 
To read the TCWN Enforcement Report, go to http://www.tcwn.org/node/119

RESPONSES ARE IN - GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES REPLY TO ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES QUESTIONNAIRE

For immediate release
 
 
Knoxville, Tenn. – Tennessee gubernatorial candidates have submitted responses to six environment-related questions posed by social and environmental justice organizations in the state. Tennessee Clean Water Network, Tennessee Environmental Council, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, and the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club jointly created and sent questionnaires to the two candidates for Governor of Tennessee.  Responses to the broad range of questions were received Friday.  To view their responses, visit http://tcwn.org/magubquestion or http://www.socm.org/.
 
 
The questionnaire focused on a range of environmental issues from energy efficiency to what qualifies one to head the state environmental agency.  The six questions were:
 
 

  1. What specific experience, expertise and education requirements would you use as criteria for selecting the new Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation?
  2. Municipal and state-backed models exist for public sector green jobs weatherization initiatives with innovative financing measures and cross-sector coordination (government, private investors, community, labor, businesses, etc.). How would you support a large-scale initiative in TN as a strategy to generate much-needed jobs, reduce peak demand for energy, provide a pipeline for our young people to stay in the state while protecting green spaces and agricultural lands in Tennessee? 
  3. Almost half of Tennessee is in farmland, and agriculture provides over 200,000 jobs.  Yet Tennessee loses over 42,000 acres of farmland each year to residential, commercial, and industrial development.  What proactive measures would you take to improve the viability of Tennessee's farms?
  4.  What economic development incentives do you support to make Tennessee more competitive in the recruitment of renewable energy and energy efficiency manufacturing industries?
  5. The state is required to establish water quality rules and standards no less stringent than those established by the federal government.  Recognizing Tennessee’s diverse and unique environment, on what terms do you support water quality protections greater than the minimum established by the EPA?
  6.   As Governor, what steps would you take to support efforts to reduce the amount of water and coal TVA uses to make electricity by investing more in solar, wind, energy efficiency and other water saving energy technologies?

 
TEC educates and advocates for the conservation and improvement of Tennessee’s environment, communities and public health.    
 
SOCM is a member-run organization that encourages civic involvement and collective action so that the people of Tennessee have a greater voice in determining their future. The mission of SOCM is to empower Tennesseans to protect, defend, and improve the quality of life in their communities across the state. SOCM is working for social, economic, and environmental justice for all. We are committed to the journey of becoming an anti-racist organization. Recognizing our interdependence, SOCM is committed to overcoming social and institutional racism and embracing our diverse cultures.
 
 
TCWN’s mission is to organize Tennesseans to claim our right to clean water and healthy communities by fostering civic engagement, building coalitions and advancing water policy for a sustainable future.
 
 
The TN Chapter of the Sierra Club works to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources;to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives
# # #

TCWN issues 60-day notice of intent to sue the City of Chattanooga

PRESS CONFERENCE: AUGUST 10, 2010 10:00 A.M. CHATTANOOGA PIER
 
 
Location – Chattanooga, TN
 
On August 2, 2010, the Tennessee Clean Water Network issued a 60-day notice of intent to sue to the City of Chattanooga for violating its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant and Combined Sewer System by unpermitted discharges by its West and East Bank Tide Gates; unpermitted Sewer Overflows; exceedances of the maximum E. coli limit; and monitoring and reporting violations.
 
“The hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage going into Chattanooga Creek and the Tennessee River are staggering.  Just this weekend there was a spill that killed thousands of fish.” Said Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network. “Chattanooga prides itself on being a green city and they have made great strides in sustainability but attention must be paid to the failing sewer system.”
 
The notice specifically sites these violations from January 2006 – June 2010:
•    32 discharges totally 319,000,000 gallons of raw sewage to the Tennessee River from the West and East Bank Combined Sewer System outfalls;
•    489 sewer overflows totaling 35,000,000 gallons of raw sewage to streams, streets and private property in Chattanooga;
•    36 discharges totaling 156,000,000 gallons of raw sewage to Chattanooga Creek.  Sixty-one thousand gallons were discharged in the first 6 months of 2010.
 
“We’ve worked out solutions to similar problems with KUB and we are willing to work out a solution so that the people of Chattanooga can enjoy clean water in their rivers and streams,” said Ms. Hoyos. “Though we understand that the current City Administration is working on these problems, recent overflows convince us that current efforts to control this problem are not working.  We will not wait any longer.”
 
TCWN has had success in a similar citizen suit.  In 2004, TCWN filed suit against the Knoxville Utility Board that was settled after the United States Environmental Protection Agency intervened which resulted in a consent order.  KUB has worked hard to comply with the order and has reduced their sewer overflows considerably.
 
 
 
Untreated sewage can harbor pathogens, bacteria and chemicals that are unsafe. A recent Emory University study indicates that combined sewer overflow systems attract the mosquito responsible for the West Nile Virus.  To read the abstract of this study, click here.
 
If you see a manhole spewing liquid stay clear of that water, wash down your vehicle and do not let children or pets play in that water.  
 
To see the 60-day notice and photos, go to http://www.tcwn.org/cleanwater1

Check out the answers to the gubernatorial environmental questionnaire

Gubernatorial candidtates Bill Haslam and Mike McWherter responded to the environmental issues questionnaire submitted by us, SOCM, TEC and the TN Chapter of the Sierra Club.  Click on the documents below to check out the responses.
 
Howard Switzer, Green Party candidtate for Governor, also responded.
 

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McWherter Responses 9-17-10.pdf26.98 KB
Howard Switzer responses.pdf13.56 KB
Haslam Questionnaire Responses 9-17-10.pdf118.81 KB

Call for Entries: Wilma Dykeman Prize for Essay Writing 2010

July 8, 2010
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Media Contact:   Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director, 865.522.7007 x100
 
Call for Entries: Wilma Dykeman Prize for Essay Writing 2010
 
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— Do you have a favorite story about a summer trip to the lake?  How about fond memories of lazily floating down a river?  Is there a Tennessee stream that inspires the writer within?
 
If so, then put pen to paper (or finger to key) and submit an essay to the Wilma Dykeman Prize for Essay Writing 2010.  All submissions must be received by August 2, 2010.  Essays must be focused on Tennessee waters or general water topics impacting Tennessee and should be inspired by the works of Wilma Dykeman.  Guidelines are available here  or by calling TCWN at 865-522-7007.
 
Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) sponsors an annual essay contest with prizes for essays about Tennessee waterways.  The prizes are awarded in honor of the late Wilma Dykeman, the 2007 recipient of TCWN’s Bill Russell River Hero Award. 
 
“We are pleased to hold this contest in memory of Wilma Dykeman, an admired and inspirational writer who worked tirelessly to protect the French Broad River,” said Janet King, TCWN Board member and Treasurer.  “Tennessee’s waters are so important to so many residents and visitors alike.”
 
Ms. Dykeman’s legacy includes writing 16 books, including The French Broad and The Tall Woman; being named Tennessee Conservation Writer of the Year; holding the honorary title of Tennessee State Historian; and leaving a love of nature and environmental stewardship and education for future generations.
 
One of Ms. Dykeman’s most notable achievements was her role in designating the French Broad River as an American Heritage River in the 1990s.  Ms. Dykeman devoted much energy and passion to convincing leaders in North Carolina and Tennessee of the river’s worthiness for that designation and the benefits it would bring.
 
The French Broad (1955) recounts the history, legend, biography, sociology and economics of a mountain region that draws its life and ways from this river and its tributaries.  The work, her first, won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Trophy in 1955.  The French Broad was groundbreaking when published and has never been out of print.  It inspired stewardship of the French Broad River, whose water quality has since vastly improved.
 
Ms. Dykeman passed away at the age of 86 on December 22, 2006, leaving a legacy of environmental stewardship and education for future generations along the French Broad River.
 
 

TCWN ED asks Mayor Haslam to Stop Pollution Coming from the UT site

Tennessee Clean Water Network’s Executive Director, Renée Victoria Hoyos, asked Mayor Haslam to ask the University of Tennessee to clean up their site that is polluting the Tennessee River with sediments from a construction site.
 
“The University of Tennessee is turning the Tennessee River into a big orange river of mud,” says Ms. Hoyos. “We’ve been watching that site for months and it’s not getting much better. I ask that Mayor Haslam use his position as Mayor of Knoxville to ask UT to fix the site so it does not pollute the Tennessee River”
 
 
To see the full press release, click here.
 
 
To read more about the site and TCWN's work on this problem, click here.

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TCWN releases a report on TDEC's Enforcement Program

April 14, 2010 -  TCWN released a report on the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's (TDEC) enforcement program through the Division of Water Pollution Control.  This report dispels the myths at the Tennessee State Legislature that TDEC over enforces and targets agriculture.
 
Today the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) releases the first in a series of reports on the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s (TDEC) water protection programs. The first report focuses on TDEC’s enforcement program.  Using data from 2008 enforcement actions found on TDEC’s website, TCWN found the following.Of all enforcement actions for violations of water quality:
•    73% were taken against pollution activities associated with development
•    62% of enforcement actions were taken for minor permit violations not associated with a pollution event.
•    Only 2% of enforcement actions were against the farming community but not for farming activities.  They were for development activities on farm land and an industrial farm operating without a permit.
•    65% of fines were under $2,000.
•    Most enforcement actions occur in or around TDEC field offices
 
To read the report, click here.

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Dykeman Prize Winners Announced!

TCWN announces the winners of the Wilma Dykeman Prize for Essay Writing.  The two winners are Leigh Stanfield of Soddy Daisy, TN for the prize in the 17 and under category and Arthur Stewart of Lenior City, TN for the prize in the 18 and over category. "I am grateful to be a part of honoring Ms. Dykeman's memory and works, and this year's contest entries were excellent.”  Said, Janet King, Board member of TCWN.  “The winners' essays not only reflect Ms. Dykeman's love of our natural resources, specifically water, but the writers also deserve recognition for their research and creativity.   I applaud TCWN's commitment to sponsorship of this event."To learn more go to: http://www.tcwn.org/dykeman

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TCWN files Federal Citizen Suit for Clean Water Act Violations

Press Release: TCWN files Federal Citizen Suit for Clean Water Act Violations against David Trantanella at the Casa Bella Subdivision in Knoxville (12/14/09). The Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) filed suit on December 14, 2009 in Federal Court against Mr. David Trantanella for violations of the Clean Water Act at the Casa Bella Subdivision construction site in east Knox County. The complaint charges that water quality violations have continued despite the notice of intent to sue TCWN sent October 2, 2009. To read the full notice, click here

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TCWN files 60-day Notice of Intent to sue the City of Memphis

The Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) filed notice of intent to sue in the Western District Federal Court against the City of Memphis for violations of the Clean Water Act at the Maynard C. Styles Sewage Treatment Plant. The notice outlines 1,170 sanitary sewer overflows in 5 years, 18,000,000 gallons of raw sewage discharged into Shelby County streams and the Mississippi River. To read the full notice, click here

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TCWN files Clean Water Act Suit in Eastern District Federal Court

The Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) filed suit today in Federal Court against Babelay Farm, LLC, Clear Creek, Construction, LLC, Sharp Contracting, Inc., The Legends at Washington Pike, LLC, And Hathaway Construction Co., Inc. for violations of the Clean Water Act at the Legends at Washington Pike Subdivision construction site in east Knox County. The complaint charges that water quality violations have continued despite the notice of intent to sue TCWN sent July 29, 2009. To read the complaint, click here

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Mississippi River Collaborative Targets Solutions to the Dead Zone

Researchers from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium on Monday July 27, 2009 reported on the size of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. This summer it is 3,000 square miles, an area larger than the State of Delaware. The Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico is an area where there is not enough oxygen in the water to support marine life. It forms every summer, caused by high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution coming from the Mississippi River watershed. The nitrogen and phosphorus stimulate excessive growth of algae; when this algae dies, its decomposition uses up much of the oxygen in the water, which chokes marine life. The pollution comes from chemical fertilizer that runs off of farm fields, sewage treatment plants, and polluted runoff from cities. The pollution sources are along the entire length of the Mississippi River.

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press release - deadzone (PDF)385.43 KB

TCWN Puts Knox County Developers on Notice

Today the Tennessee Clean Water Network and 2 local residents filed a 60-Day notice of intent to sue in Federal Court against the developers of the Legends at Washington Pike Subdivision in northeast Knox County, Tennessee. The named defendants are Victor Jernigan, Jeff McBride (Babelay Farm, LLC, Babelay Farm II, LLC, and Clear Creek Construction, LLC), The Legends at Washington Pike, LLC, James Lee Sharp (Sharp Contracting, Inc) and David Hathaway (Hathaway Construction, LLC). The Network has documented hundreds of days of violation of the Federal Clean Water Act at the site over the past four months, including dozens of water quality violations. To see photos and the 60-day notice, click here.

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Destructive Water Bills Defeated by Tennesseans Committed to Clean Water (6/25/09)

At the start of the 2009 Tennessee Legislative Session the Tennessee Clean Water Network was actively watching and working against 14 bills with the potential to negatively impact our state's waters. Now at the conclusion of this session only 1 bad bill was passed.
To read more about the status of 2009 Tennessee State Legislature's water bills click here.

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Press Release - Legislative Conclusion (PDF)36.11 KB

Bullying at the Cumberland County Commission Meeting over where coal fly ash will reside (6/03/09)

Tuesday June 2, 2009 residents of Crossville gathered at The Palace Theater to participate in a hearing on the disposal of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal fly ash from the Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant in a nearby abandoned quarry. Proponents of the project from Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC were granted unlimited speaking time while the public was given three minutes each to express concerns. The third resident to speak, Margie Buxbaum was forcible removed from the lectern by police for speaking one minute over her time. She was detained behind a curtained door and released minutes later to applause.
To see photos of the evening, click here.

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TCWN Director to testify before U.S. House Subcommittee on Kingston Ash Disaster (3/26/09)

Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) Executive Director Renee Victoria Hoyos will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment regarding the TVA ash spill on March 31, 2009.

Kingston Coal Ash Disaster interviews

Tennessee Clean Water Network Executive Director Renee Victoria Hoyos is available for interviews on the Kingston coal ash spill and the impact on area waters

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Media Advisory Ash Spill Interviews (PDF)38.07 KB

TCWN Director Meets with President-elect Obama's Transistion Team (12/11/08)

Renee Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of Tennessee Clean Water Network and board president of the national Clean Water Network, met with President-elect Obama's transition team Monday in Washington, D.C., along with 30 other state and national environmental groups to discuss water issues across the nation.

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The Irresponsible Water Coalition is Back! (9/29/08)

A group calling themselves the Coalition for Responsible Water Rights will be speaking at Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry's 26th Annual Environmental Awards Conference at Montgomery Bell State Park on October 2, 2008, to discuss the deregulation of water.

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Knox County Spends $1.9M+ on Deficient Stormwater Ordinance

Taxpayer dollars wasted while property owners suffer damage from overdevelopment

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Press Release (PDF)47.59 KB

Tennessee Clean Water Network Honors East TN Hero

Frank Hensley Named 2006 Bill Russell River Hero

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River Hero 2006 Press Release (PDF)46.59 KB

TCWN Comments on TVA Mega Site Program

'Megasite' opponents fear worse pollution (Associated Press)

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TVA Board Comments (PDF)43.05 KB

US Fish and Wildlife Service Leaves out Public While Making Plans to Pollute Reelfoot Lake

Comments sent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service

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Comments (PDF)102.32 KB

Ragsdale, Wuethrich Jeopardize Clean Water and Individual Property Rights

Cover memo sent to County, State officials regarding violations of state and federal laws in the proposed stormwater ordinance. Technical Memo sent to County, State officials outlining 11 points of contention.

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Cover Memo (PDF)54.76 KB
Technical Memo (PDF)37.2 KB
Stormwater Memo to City Council (PDF)90.48 KB

TN Legislature Grants Citizens Right to Appeal Water Pollution Permits

Click here for Copies of Appeal Bills and Background

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TCWN Announces 2005 River Hero

About 2005 River Hero, Chester McConnell

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River Hero Press Release (PDF)37.23 KB

Tennessee Clean Water Network

625 Market St.

Knoxville, TN 37902

 

Mailing Address:

PO BOX 1521

Knoxville, TN 37901

 

Office: 865.522.7007

Fax: 865.525.4988