12/31/08: UMD Update from TN

Dear folks,

This holiday season has been like one I have never experienced. Today is New Year’s Eve and as people drink themselves into stupors United Mountain Defense volunteers are working tirelessly to help the people of Harriman, TN. This morning United Mountain Defense full time volunteer staff person, Matt Landon gave a 15 minute interview on Democracy Now. United Mountain Defense has been on the ground since day 1 to share the real story with the world and will continue to do so. Early this morning we had an overly enthusiastic water monitoring volunteer who set out to gather another round of water and coal sludge samples and was detained by local police and verbally warned not to enter the area again or risk arrest. Later today our volunteers gathered more samples of well and spring water along Swan Pond Road. We learned that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has begun testing all the wells they know of within a 4 mile radius of the coal ash disaster site.

We also coordinated our efforts with local coal impacted residents. We are still meeting directly impacted residents who have not been contacted by TVA or its representatives. United Mountain Defense volunteers observed and recorded independent contractors wearing personal protective suits today as they took samples of the coal ash right from resident’s back yards. Although many of these contractors require all of their employees to wear these suits even in non toxic situations it definitely raised some red flags for us and local residents who knew this day would come soon. Because of the lack of rain and the lake water displaced by the coal ash this muck is beginning to dry out and crack along the edges. This is the single incident that many of the coal impacted residents feared most after surviving the initial coal ash tsunami. TVA promised to install sprinklers to keep the coal ash wet and we have not seen any sprinklers installed yet.

The following is an update from a United Mountain Defense volunteer

December 31, 2008

Because Governor Bredesen didn’t show up to the directly impacted area, we instead documented TVA activities and interviewed local citizens with the assistance of other local residents.

We first went down and talked to a few cousins living in the area. They were both very concerned and pissed off about the situation, so we decided to interview both of them as if they were talking to their representatives who were currently safely in the hands of TVA across the river. We interviewed an informative and emotionally intense man speaking in front of the sludge spill and then his cousin. We plan to send thier plea to their TN reps. via DVD and we’ll be putting both testimonies on line (after editing).

One local was extremely concerned about water and test results and I promised I’d get any info to him as soon as possible. Tons of his relatives live in the area.

We also observed folks in personal protective suits across the river near the plant, working in the coal ash. We filmed them and will have that footage on line as soon as possible (tonight?). We also observed folks on the peninsula in that ruined section of the Emory River setting up weirs or something. One of the companies working in that area was Hepaco (www.hepaco.com). All the workers we saw had one-piece suits covering their entire bodies for protection. Some, I believe, were covering their heads and faces as well.

We traveled around the other side of Swan Pond Circle Road (on the other side of the Emory inlet) and got some “great” views of the wasteland. We took lots of photos and got some footage. The heaviest work we could see going on was at the railroad. There was a huge tube snaking across the landscape maybe sucking up sludge. Along Swan Pond Circle Road there was a bunch of upturned earth that indicated a pipe for water had been inserted to go out to residents. At the spot where the road had been destroyed TVA had built an alternate road cutting through some people’s yards for school buses to get through and such. A local resident said that when she had visited this area at the end of the road about a week ago her eyes had watered up.

The previous report is one of many stories that United Mountain Defense volunteers have lived through, written about, and shared with the world.

This is an important time right now. After some phone calls yesterday to TVA we have learned that they may be trying to re write history by changing the facts about what has occurred here on the ground. Please, Please, Please help us here. The national media has dropped the story. Though we did learn there will be a Senate Committee Hearing on Jan 8th at 10am in Washington, DC. Please get the word to all of the representatives who sit on this panel about the destruction that has occurred down here. We are getting some word of the water samples taken from the Emory River by the brave River Keepers and they say the numbers are almost off the charts. It is incredible how little the public is being told.

Here’s how you can help. We need funds. We need funds for 50 disposable cell phones for a whole coal impacted neighborhood which will not regain phone service for 6 weeks. We need tanker trucks of fresh water. We need personal protective gear for volunteers and coal impacted residents. We need funds for gas, copies, and clean bottled water. The cheapest water we have found is .79 a gallon at Food City. We need wireless web cams to monitor onsite work. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated and we will make every dollar stretch as far as possible.

United Mountain Defense is an all volunteer run 501c3 non profit.

You can also help by reposting all of our info to everyplace on the web. Please write letters to the editor. Please hold a fund raiser, bake sale, dance party, house party.

If you are a coal impacted resident of Harriman, TN understand that you are not alone. Please call 865 689 2778.

Thank you, Matt Landon full time volunteer staff person United Mountain Defense

Comments are closed.