UNITED MOUNTAIN DEFENSE
For Immediate Release: March 3, 2009
Contact: Matt Landon, (865) 689-2778, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Denny Larson, Global Community Monitor, 415-845-4705
Tennessee residents begin independent air monitoring at TVA coal ash disaster site
State’s monitoring fails to test for many dangerous toxins found in coal ash
Knoxville, TN., March 3, 2009—Residents of Harriman, Tenn., where the TVA coal ash disaster occurred on December 22, 2008, will begin gathering independent air quality samples on Tuesday March 3, 2009 in Roane County, Tenn. Members of United Mountain Defense and the Tennessee Coal Ash Survivors Network received training from the Global Community Monitor on January 29 through Feb 2, 2009 in Delaware on conducting an air monitoring program. The training included tutorials on quality assurance/ quality control, completing air impact log sheets, selecting monitor locations using EPA siting criteria and proper use of air monitoring equipment.
This air monitoring program was initiated in response to local resident’s complaints of worsening respiratory problems over the 67 days since the disaster. Many residents are accusing the TN Department of Health, TN legislators, and TVA of disregarding their grievances despite evacuation notices from doctors.
The community is anxious to conduct an independent air monitoring program after finding that TVA’s contractor, the Center for Toxicology, and Environmental Health (CTEH) used inadequate monitoring equipment to test the air quality. CTEH’s low volume monitoring equipment was not able to show compliance or non compliance with EPA’s air quality standards according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. CTEH should have used high volume air monitors to show EPA compliance.
“The monitoring being done by the state is designed to hide the very real toxic threat of the coal ash disaster,” said Denny Larson of the Global Community Monitor, an international environmental justice non-profit. “The community monitoring program being launched will expose this cover-up and tell the toxic truth to the public.”
The State of Tennessee is only monitoring three heavy metals at PM 10, a large particle. The residents feel that these tests are not enough. The Tennessee Coal Ash Survivors Network, United Mountain Defense, and the Global Community Monitor are monitoring seven heavy metals with a particle size of PM 2.5, a particle small enough to enter the bloodstream through the lungs. The air monitor’s Teflon filters will be tested for the concentrations of the following heavy metals: arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel and thallium. These heavy metals are known to cause serious health problems, such as cancer.
TVA’s Toxic Release Inventory for the Kingston Coal Plant and all of the previous independent monitoring that occurred at the disaster site helped provide the list of heavy metals to look for in the air filters. “It made sense to monitor the air since United Mountain Defense found coal fly ash toxins while testing the water, coal ash, and people of Roane County,” said Matt Landon, staff person for United Mountain Defense.
The community is also anxious to begin monitoring because of a massive coal ash dust storm coming from TVA’s disaster site videotaped on February 3 and February 4, 2009 by Matt Landon. Estimates put the cloud at 100 feet tall by ½ a mile wide and it was blowing directly toward Kingston, TN. “I saw the biggest dust cloud I’ve ever seen coming from TVA’s disaster site,” said Matt Landon. Landon immediately called TDEC’s onsite manager, Bob Alexander to report the dust storm only to be informed that Alexander didn’t see any dust.
The residents will use two portable particulate monitors developed by the Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority in conjunction with the US EPA. The devices were developed to address the need for portable, ambient air sampling. These air monitors mimic the human breathing pattern for air intake and test a specific location for 24 hours. Such monitors are user friendly and are used by the EPA. All samples will be sent to a certified laboratory for analysis using a chain of custody form.
The coal ash is a byproduct left over after TVA burns their coal and it contains mercury and dangerous heavy metals like lead and arsenic, among many other toxic and radioactive contaminates. Materials found naturally in coal are concentrated in the ash and exist at more toxic levels.
Check out www.gcmonitor.org for more info about Global Community Monitor. For more information please visit www.unitedmountaindefense.org or call 865-689-2778.
About United Mountain Defense United Mountain Defense is a Knoxville based non-profit dedicated to protecting Tennessee’s watersheds, air, mountains and communities. We have many years of experience working on issues relating to surface mining and its impacts on communities. A primary focus of UMD has been in scientific data collection, community organizing, and data collection and analysis from federal and state agencies.
Global Community Monitor (GCM) is an international human rights and environmental justice organization that empowers communities to monitor their environment and take action to transform it into a truly sustainable way of life. GCM has trained communities in 21 countries and dozens of states in the U.S. (www.gcmonitor.org)