Another waste spill occurred on Friday at a Tennessee Valley Authority coal-fired power plant--this time in Alabama.
The leak--estimated at 10,000 gallons--from a process water pond, is significantly smaller than the December spill that released roughly a billion gallons of toxic sludge from a holding pond at the TVA's Kingston power plant in Tennessee.
The Kingston spill was coal ash, which contains heavy materials like arsenic and mercury.
The TVA reported that the Alabama leak was from a gypsum pond at
its Widows Creek Fossil Plant. Gypsum is a mineral that contains
calcium sulfate, which is used to make drywall, cement and fertilizer.
The pond contains limestone spray from scrubbers that clean sulfur
dioxide from the facility's eight coal-fired units.
The TVA reportedly has set up containment booms to trap
contaminated water released into Widows Creek. The Alabama creek is a
tributary to the Tennessee River, which is also threatened by the spill
The city of Scottsboro, Alabama about 15 miles downstream from the
Widows Creek Fossil Plant uses the Tennessee River as drinking water.
Brent Blackmon, manager of Stevenson Utilities, which provides water to
about 1,600 customers, said water samples were being tested and lab
results were expected Monday afternoon.
"Even as residents in Roane County Tennessee are still trying to
grasp the full impact of the Kingston disaster, communities in
northeastern Alabama are now threatened with a new toxic coal waste
spill," said Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club's National Coal
Environmentalists hope that this event will raise pressure even
higher for tougher regulations on coal waste. According to the
Associated Press, millions of tons of toxic coal ash are piling up in
surface ponds at 156 coal-fired power plants nationwide.
"Shockingly, coal waste is largely unregulated in Alabama," said
Gil Rogers, staff attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center in
Chapel Hill, North Carolina. "Alabamans deserve straight answers from
the Alabama Department of Environmental Management about how it's
handling this waste stream at TVA's Widow Creek plant and if any
corrective action procedures are in place to deal with it.