Monday, January 12, 2009

Coal Plant Spill Leaves Water Contaminated but Safe to Drink

On Friday, February 9, it was discovered that about 10,000 gallons of waste leaked from a gypsum pond at Tennessee Valley Authority-operated Widows Creek Fossil Plant in Alabama. According to TVA's own fact sheet about the spill, "gypsum ponds hold limestone spray from TVA’s scrubbers that clean sulfur dioxide (SO2) from coal-plant emissions. Gypsum contains calcium sulfate, which is commonly used in drywall, a commercially sold construction material."

Today's Washington Post contains an update on TVA tests for contamination levels in the nearby Tennessee River, which was affected by the spill. TVA's website also provides test results as of January 11, including a link to tables of sample results. So far results show that although the Tennessee River was contaminated, its water still meets standards for drinking.

TVA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are sampling Tennessee River water independently. The EPA maintains it's own On-Scene Coordinator web page, which contains links to images, contacts, and additional information about the Widows Creek Spill.

To find more information about governmental resources on the environment, see our guide.

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