This article discusses coal’s other dark side – toxic ash that can poison water and people. Workers who cleaned up a huge spill from a coal ash pond in Tennessee in 2008 are still suffering—and dying. The U.S. has 1,400 ash dumps.
On December 22, ten years to the day after a dike ruptured at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant near Kingston, Tennessee, pouring more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash into the Emory River, TVA took out a full-page ad in the local paper to congratulate itself and its contractors on a cleanup job well done. That same day, about 150 of the workers who actually cleaned up the spill gathered at the site, which is now a park with hiking trails, boat ramp, and ball fields. Standing in blue jeans and work boots near a homemade wooden cross, they commemorated a different aspect of the cleanup: their 36 coworkers who’ve died from brain cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, and other diseases.