1-14-2009: Residents living near TVA’s Coal Ash Disaster receive medical screening for heavy metal exposure

On Tuesday January 13 residents of Roane county attended the second day of clinical testing for exposure to heavy metals and other environmental toxins in Harriman, TN following TVA’s massive coal ash disaster of December 22, 2008. The clinical screening was performed by a Brentwood, TN corporation called Internal Balance. Internal Balance assembled a skilled team of physician’s assistants who worked under the guidance of a licensed physician, Dr. Daniel Kalb, MD. The owner of Internal Balance, Tamara Mariea is a biochemical nutritionist and a detoxification specialist.

A few organizations independently fundraised money to cover the $500 per patient cost so that additional financial stress would not be added for these impacted families when TVA repeatedly refused to pay for the screening within the 21-27 day timeframe after their initial exposure on Dec 22. A total of $15,000 was raised. Groups actively fundraising included United Mountain Defense with Civil Society Institute contributing $10,000 and Coal River Mountain Watch contributing $1,650 as well as many other groups and individuals.

TVA says that the area is not toxic and that preliminary water test show that the drinking water at the downstream water treatment facilities of Kingston and Rockwood meet safe drinking water standards. The problem is that many of the families in the impacted area did not have access to safe drinking water because their gravity fed spring water was piped through the disaster area or they depended on well water.

TVA was advising families to boil water without informing anyone about the chemicals that may have been in the water. Many community members did not receive TVA’s notices. Members of United Mountain Defense have been communicating with local residents who drank ground water. Some of these residents were given scholarships for medical testing because they got sick while drinking ground water after the disaster.

Many people in the area are frustrated that they have not received detailed information from TVA about the safety of their wells and drinking water. Many residents say that they have not drunk the local water for years due to questions and fears of its safety.

On Monday December 22, 2008 a tragedy 40 times bigger than the Valdez Oil spill occurred outside of Kingston, TN. Residents living near the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston coal plant were flooded with nasty gray coal waste. It covered more than 300 acres of land and flooded into tributaries of the Emory River and Tennessee River which is the water supply for Chattanooga TN and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The coal ash, slurry or sludge 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 potentially toxic and radioactive contaminates. Materials found naturally in coal are concentrated in the ash and become more toxic than when they start.

For more information please visit www.unitedmountaindefense.org or call 865-689-2778.

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