TN Coal Spill Results in Ash-Filled Catfish

The flurry of first-hand reports are still coming in on the massive TVA ash spill in eastern Tennessee last month.  Legal activist Erin Brockovich weighed in today on her visit to the disaster site with a moving depiction of the dangers and disruption for local residents.

Yesterday I heard from John Wathen with the Friends of Hurricane Creek about his trip to Kingston over the weekend.  After flying over the spill area, he reports that the pollution has spread far downstream.  He says the muddy plume can be tracked all the way to the bottom of Watts Dam -- 25 miles away! -- before the toxic sludge becomes completely mixed and no longer detectable from the air. 

John also shared his photos and passed along the video below from his fellow waterkeeper, Donna Lisenby, documenting the fish collection and other metal testing along sections of the river.

During two days on the river they observed TVA officials on barges removing trees and woody debris.  But in the weeks since the spill, it appears that the TVA has made no effort to clean the coal ash pollution from the river.  As Donna states in the video, the TVA seems more interested in repairing railroad tracks so that they can bring more coal into the plant. 

To me, one of the most shocking moments in the video comes near the end, back at the lab, when one of the collected fish is dissected to reveal all of the ash that has accumulated in its stomach -- so much ash, in fact, that it makes up 1/8th of the catfish's body weight. 

So much for being hooked on 'clean' coal...