The EPA has released its sludge test results and it ain't pretty:
At one point in the Emory River, just downriver from the disaster site, arsenic levels in the water registered 149 times higher than the federal limit for safe drinking water. The same spot registered lead levels five times higher than normal, as well as unsafe levels of antimony, beryllium, cadmium and chromium, and elevated levels of a dozen other chemicals.
Although the TVA's Web site boasts a prominent photo of Gov. Phil Bredesen handling a glob of sludge barehanded, experts are urging Tennesseans not to follow suit.
"We're asking people to limit contact with the (coal) ash material, to wash their hands and clothing after coming in contact with it. Don't let your children and animals play in the ash," EPA spokeswoman Laura Niles said.
As the lightweight ash dries, it could become airborne and irritate the lungs and skin. The TVA is working on dust control as it searches for a more permanent solution.
So far, Kingston's drinking water has tested safe. The intake for the city water system is upstream from the spill and has registered high levels of only one poison, thallium.
Thallium, of course, is a poison favored by mystery writers and KGB agents. And nothing has yet been released about possible radioactivity of any of this stuff.
I do have a question about all of this, which hasn’t really been addressed: If the Emory flows into the Clinch, and the Clinch flows into the Tennessee, and the Tennessee flows across the state, right through Bob Corker Country and then north into the Ohio, what are the chances that this poisonous stuff will spread its toxic load all across the state? And how many communities pull their water from this river system downstream? What are the risks associated with that?
Meanwhile, this seems to be yet another example of warnings ignored, and the feds shirking their responsibility to protect citizens. I guess they thought the free hand of the market would take care of everything for them.