Friday, May 29, 2009

Seabird's Hollow - a new blog about dirty coal in Tennessee

I just discovered a new blog from East Tennessee, called Seabird's Hollow, thoughts from the coalfields of East Tennessee, which so far has drawn attention to the problems of coal dust, even far from the coal mines and removed mountaintops. For example. she describes the ravages caused when Dominion Virginia Power built a golf course with fly ash from its Deep Creek coal-fired power plant near Chesapeake, Virginia, as a way to get rid of the dirty stuff:
The golf course, with 1.5-million tons of fly ash land-sculpting its greens and fairways, is now two years old. Water tests from samples under the course in 2008 revealed high levels of arsenic, lead and other contaminants in groundwater. EPA tests confirmed elevated levels of arsenic and lead. The original study said that 82 percent of residents with wells in the area drew water from the same aquifer that underlies the unlined ash reception areas, and warned that any well drawing from it might suck up elements leaching out from the golf course's toxic fill.
How do these people get away with this sort of thing? Everyone knew how toxic the ash was, specially the guys who were moving it around to landscape it. But they probably earned good money to shut up and do what they were told, while they ruined the drinking water for most everybody nearby.

The miners who participate in removing mountaintops, I understand, are generally not locals, but people who've been brought in, and don't have any relationship to the mountains and streams they've destroyed. And I understand they're not even really earning good money - just better than no money at all. We have to figure out other ways that they can support their families, like producing renewable energy products, putting up windmills on mountaintops instead of removing them, learning how to make homes more energy efficient... That's who the green jobs should be for!

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