January 9-11, 2009: Mountain Justice Meeting – Camp Blanton, KY

There will be a Mountain Justice meeting the weekend of Jan 9-11 at Camp Blanton in Harlan County, KY, all are welcome.


We will be discussing the Tennessee TVA coal ash disaster and our response, as well as planning the MJ Summer Camp which will also be at Camp Blanton in May. Come check out this beautiful camp in the Kentucky mountains!

Plan on arriving Friday night. The meeting will be Saturday starting around 9:00 lasting until about 5.

Kids are welcomed.

Sunday we will go hiking to Knobby Rock, Sand Cave and The Maze on Pine Mountain just above the camp. This is old growth forest and an amazingly beautiful place.

We will be cooking meals and if people can bring food that would be great. There is no cost to attend our meeting.

We will have a nice fire going for the meeting in Duffield Lodge, just across the lake. Or we might meet in the main lodge if there is a big crowd.

What to bring:

This is a Boy Scout camp that has been recently remodeled. It has two
nice cabins with about 30 beds total. There are also two old cabins you probably wont want to sleep in, but they have cots. If you want privacy, you will probably want to bring a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad etc. There are plenty of tenting spaces but will be cold to sleep outdoors.

Bring slepeing bag, towel and bedding and personal items, laptop, notebook etc. Bring gloves, hat, warm clothes and sweaters.

There is a nice main dining hall (heated) – it will mostly be vegetarian food.

There is a beautiful mountain above the camp with an excellent one-hour
hiking trail and view. If you want to hike it, you should be in good
physical condition and bring hiking boots.

There is one fair-sized bathhouse with three showers M-F. Bring your
own towel and personal needs.

There will probably be no cell phone service at the camp.

Bring a flashlight

Please no alcohol, no drugs, no dogs.


Directions from OH, KY, TN, VA, NC and WV – (From other areas, just
Mapquest “Camp Blanton” and put “Harlan Kentucky” for the city and

From Ohio:

Starting at Cincinnati,

  • I-75 S go 160 miles
  • Take the US-25E exit (Kentucky EXIT 29) and turn LEFT onto US-25E. Go
    34.5 miles thru Barbourville and Pineville
  • Shortly after Pineville, Turn LEFT onto US-119, and go 23.5 miles
  • Turn LEFT onto KY-840 go 1.6 miles, follow MJS signs to Camp Blanton

From Lexington:

  • I-75 S toward KNOXVILLE. 80.7 miles
  • Take the US-25E exit (EXIT 29) and turn LEFT onto US-25E. Go 34.5
    miles thru Barbourville and Pineville
  • Shortly after Pineville, Turn LEFT onto US-119, and go 23.5 miles
  • Turn LEFT onto KY-840 go 1.6 miles, follow MJS signs to Camp Blanton

From Knoxville (2 hrs 15 min)

  • From I640 Take 441 to TN-33 N, then go 41.5 miles on 33N
  • Stay STRAIGHT to go onto US-25E N / TN-32 N. Continue to follow US-25E
    N (Crossing into KENTUCKY at Cumberland Gap) 24.4 miles
  • Go through Middlesboro KY
  • Turn RIGHT onto US-119 and go 23.5 miles (if you go into downtown
    Pineville, you have missed the turn for US 119)
  • Turn LEFT onto KY-840, travel 1.6 miles follow MJS signs to Camp

From VA (less than 1.5 hours from Big Stone Gap):

  • Take I81 to Kingsport, then US 23 North to Big Stone Gap
  • From Big Stone Gap, take US-58 ALT WEST (not east) for 16.3 miles to Pennington
  • Turn RIGHT onto US-421 and follow US-421 N (Crossing into KENTUCKY).
    Its 25.3 miles to Harlan
  • At Harlan, Turn LEFT onto US-119 south, go 3.1 miles
  • Turn RIGHT onto KY-840 and stay on KY-840 – follow MJS signs to Camp

From Charleston or Coal River WV (4 hours):

  • Basically you just stay on US 119 south all the way to Harlan, but 119
    makes a bunch of turns and its easy to miss the turns.
  • Take US 119 south to Kentucky, going through S. Williamson until T
    intersection with US 23 near Pikeville (total 107 mi from Charleston).
  • Turn left at T to stay on US 119/US 23 South for 32.2 miles
  • Turn right to stay on US-119 S, going toward WHITESBURG (10.7 miles).
    Do not go into Virginia – the turnoff to stay on US 119 towards
    Whitesburg is before going up the big mountain
  • At the McDonalds in Whitesburg, turn left and go up and over Pine
    Mountain (past Jim Webbs Wileys Last Resort place) and go 43.0 miles
    staying on US 119 south, a crummy winding road
  • Go through Harlan staying on US 119 south
  • About 3 miles west of Harlan, turn RIGHT onto KY-840
  • Follow MJS signs to Camp Blanton

From Asheville NC

  • Take I26 North to Kingsport TN
  • Then US 23 North into Virginia to Big Stone Gap
  • From Big Stone Gap, take US-58 ALT WEST (not east) for 16.3 miles to Pennington Gap
  • Turn RIGHT onto US-421 and follow US-421 N (Crossing into KENTUCKY).
    Its 25.3 miles to Harlan
  • At Harlan, Turn LEFT onto US-119 south, go 3.1 miles
  • Turn RIGHT onto KY-840 and stay on KY-840 – follow MJS signs to Camp

From other areas, just Mapquest “Camp Blanton” and put “Harlan
Kentucky” for the city and state

1-6-2009: Help Needed! – People around TVA disaster are falling ill

We (UMD) found out from the expert that we had come speak to last weekends community
meeting that there is a window. After around 27 days the arsenic leaves urine.
A lab said they could do this an other heavy metal testing. At first the cost
was 700 per person–but they brought it down to 500 to help.

We had 50 people sign up for testing.

One of our volunteers (Bonnie) just called me in tears. She said “look,
I am calling and people are sick, some are so sick that their families are
there and answering the phone for them. The ones that know us are telling us
the truth–they just lost their land value, there health and some of them everything
and there is no way they can come up with that kind of cash.

We have sick families who cannot pay for the medical testing they need. People
who drank out of wells and springs for DAYS while TVA told them to just boil
their water.

If anyone happens to have 500 bucks we can get at least some of the sickest
tested. We don’t want to touch a dime you can pay the clinic doing the testing
directly. They are taking blood, urine, nail clippings, fecal, hair follicle
for heavy metal and arsenic screening.

Here is what Bonnie wrote.


I need your help to get funding for the people of
Harriman to have the toxicity testing done this
Thursday, January 8th. I have spent the day calling
people who signed up to get info about the heavy metal
testing and it is breaking my heart to have to tell
them that they will be required to pay $500 up front
and then try to get reimbursed from their insurance
companies. These people are telling me they feel sick,
they are worried about their children, and some are
not available because they are laying down and not
feeling well. I had several people tell me they can’t
get the letter I emailed about the testing because
they are homeless right now because of the TVA

The people that don’t know me are saying thank you for
the information and hanging up and the people that I
have established a relationship with are saying “are
you crazy I don’t have an extra $500 laying around and
my lab testing deductable is $700 so I will never get
reimbursed for this test.”

Please look for funding so I can tell these people
something other that we are providing an opportunity
to them that will just be one more big financial

Please help, Bonnie.

I am sending this out to every listserve, myspace, facebook–everywhere I

If you can help call Bonnie at 865 454-3215

Bonnie Swinford [email protected]

1-1-09: High levels of toxic chemicals In Harriman TN fly ash deposits

From Appalachian Voices press release, January 1, 2009.

High levels of toxic heavy metals are present in samples taken from the Kingston Fossil Plant  ash spill in Harriman, TN, independent testing shows. 

Preliminary testing was conducted on samples from the Emory River by scientists working in coordination with Appalachian Voices and the Waterkeeper Alliance’s Upper Watauga  Riverkeeper Program.   

Concentrations of eight toxic chemicals range from twice to 300 times higher than drinking water limits, according to scientists with Appalachian State University who conducted the tests.   

“Although these results are preliminary, we want to release them because of the public health  concern and because we believe the TVA and EPA aren’t being candid,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chair of the Waterkeeper Alliance. 

The tests were conducted this week at the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry labs at  Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, by Dr. Shea Tuberty, Associate Professor of Biology, and Dr. Carol Babyak, Assistant Professor of Chemistry.   

Tuberty and Babyak conducted tests for 17 different heavy metals in triplicate using standard  EPA methods. The samples were collected on Saturday, December 27 by Watauga Riverkeeper Donna Lisenby from three separate locations on the Emory River.   According to the tests, arsenic levels from the Kingston power plant intake canal tested at close  to 300 times the allowable amounts in drinking water, while a sample from two miles downstream still revealed arsenic at approximately 30 times the allowed limits. Lead was present  at between twice to 21 times the legal drinking water limits, and thallium levels tested at three to four times the allowable amounts. 

All water samples were found to contain elevated levels of arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium,  lead, mercury, nickel and thallium. The samples were taken from the immediate area of the coal waste spill, in front of the Kingston Fossil plant intake canal just downstream from the spill site,  and at a power line crossing two miles downstream from the spill.   “I have never seen levels of arsenic, lead and copper this high in natural waters,” said Babyak. 

A sediment sample was also taken from one of the ash piles at the coal spill site, and revealed even higher levels of heavy metals. Arsenic tested at 135 parts per million, while lead tested at  25 ppm.  

Due to the porous topography in the Kingston and Harriman region, well and spring water contamination is one of the primary concerns for nearby populations. “The springs and the well  water in that area need to be closely monitored to see if there is any movement of these arsenic compounds and other heavy metals percolating down through the soil into these wells, because  the [surface] levels are 300 times higher,” said Tuberty. “That’s a dangerous level.”   “The highest level of risk you can have with these heavy metals is actually ingesting them,” Tuberty said. “Either drinking or eating them is really the only way it will become an issue,  unless you are breathing them. That is coming into play with these ash piles, from drying and becoming picked up from the winds. You can actually breathe them in and that’s the third way  you can become exposted to them.” 

Recreation on Watts Bar Lake and nearby regions downstream from the site could be affected for some time to come, Tuberty said. Some heavy metals can accumulate in fish, making them  unsafe for eating. Although simply touching the water will not necessarily be dangerous for people, failure to wash after contact or swallowing water while swimming could also pose risks.  

According to Dr. Tuberty, while the toxicity levels of heavy metals in the water are cause for  concern to humans, there is even more cause for concern regarding aquatic life’s ability to survive and reproduce in waters with these levels.  

“The ecosystems around Kingston and Harriman are going to be in trouble, the aquatic ones for  some time, until nature is able to bury these compounds in the environment,” said Tuberty. “I don’t know how long that will take, maybe generations.”  

Of particular concern are metals such as selenium and mercury, which bioaccumulate, or  increase in concentrations in tissues of animals higher on the food chain. Birds and mammals that ingest fish and invertebrates contaminated with these metals are at risk of health issues.  

The TVA has not released any water quality or solid soil sample results from the immediate spill  site. The only results the utility has released to the public to date were from the Kingston water facility intake 6 miles down river from the spill site, and approximately half a mile upstream on the Tennessee River. According to Tuberty, with a sediment spill, downriver contamination can take place over time rather than immediately following a spill.  

“There is a huge quantity of this ash still laying there and being picked up from the water,”  Tuberty said. “Every time you get a significant rainfall, you’re going to be getting another pulse of this coming through…until [the ash] is removed from the water, and sequestered one way or  another, it is going to be a continued input.”   “TVA [and EPA] certainly knows what is in the ash,” Tuberty continued. “[Testing is] part of their routine for solid waste disposal procedures. There is some data out there about how many  tons of heavy metals are being released in a year’s time, so they know those numbers.”  

“What you could do now is take what was lost to the river, multiply them back by the concentrations of those known compounds in the fly ash, and calculate a likelihood of what  number of tons of these different heavy metals have been released in the water.” “I think it’s going to be a frightening number.”  

Dr. Shea Tuberty, an environmental toxicologist at Appalachian State University, earned his doctorate from Tulane University and spent four years conducting EPA post doctoral work at the  University of West Florida. 

Dr. Babyak, an environmental chemist at Appalachian State University, obtained her doctorate at West Virginia University and specilized her study on coal plant emissions.  

  A video interview with Dr. Tuberty and Dr. Babyak is available online at ilovemountains.org/tvaspill.  

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

12/30/08: UMD Update from TN

Dear folks,

United Mountain Defense volunteers collected samples of well water and spring water from Swan Pond Rd.  These samples were sent off to an independent laboratory in the Southeast.  Because of the holiday season we are not sure how quickly we will get the results back.

United Mountain Defense volunteers continue to speak with the coal impacted residents on a daily basis to find out which of our approaches are working and which ones are ineffective.  Many citizens have become mobilized to speak out and some are beginning to organize and coordinate their efforts.

United Mountain Defense volunteers made the biggest stack of copies to date spending more than $300 on copies of public outreach and safety materials.  We have been soliciting donations of water and safety equipment.

United Mountain Defense volunteers called Governor Bredesen repeatedly to remind him that we haven’t seen hide nor hair of him for over 9 days since the coal ash disaster occurred.

If you are a resident impacted by the coal ash disaster?  Please call 865 689 2778

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

12-29-08: UMD, national media Southwings flyover

Dear folks,



It seems that some of the national media has finally gotten back from Christmas break. United Mountain Defense volunteers helped connect these national media sources with local residents who wanted to share their stories. We met with ABC, Truthout.org, GQ, and the Appalachian PBS series. United Mountain Defense volunteers performed water monitoring tests during the television interviews.

So after the first week of TVA’s Coal Ash Disaster the local residents are not much better off than when this first happened. Yesterday’s emergency public meeting in Kingston left many of the most directly affected Harriman community members without time to voice their concerns. And TVA has still not spoken with many of the most impacted residents.

United Mountain Defense volunteers videotaped an hour of interviews with local coal impacted residents. Our volunteers took sludge samples near Lakeshore Drive. Our volunteers also gathered samples of dead fish and other freshwater organisms to turn into a local laboratory. The Geiger counter that we used showed one reading of 130 CPM.

We noticed that the coal ash is beginning to dry out with cracks forming in some areas. We witnessed a live carp in a shallow pool of water on the edge of the coal ash.

United Mountain Defense volunteers wore dust masks throughout the day in order to protect our lungs and provide a model for how local residents could help protect themselves as well.

Tomorrow’s plan of action is to deliver more bottled water, deliver more educational materials to impacted residents, gather more water/ coal sludge samples, and continue to educate the media about TVA’s coal ash disaster. We hope to establish a local free bottled water distribution center as well.

This report is from a United Mountain Defense volunteer who went on a flyover with South Wings.

Monday December 29th 2008

Rockwood Municipal Airport Rockwood, TN

To whom it may concern,

At 9:45am this morning I arrived at the Rockwood Municipal Airport to attend a flyover of the contaminated area of Harriman and Kingston, Tennessee.
I met a resident of Swan Pond Circle Dr, and spoke with him for sometime about his time growing up and living in the area.

The fly over went well, for the most part. I met with two ABC Channel 6 news representatives at a little after 1pm and boarded the plane.
We passed over the Kingston coal plant 4 times if I remember correctly. I gathered about 6 minutes of footage while making occasional comments and answering questions for the news team.

Thank you Southwings!


Here’s how you can help. If you are a Roane county resident and would like to volunteer please contact us at 865 689 2778. If you are a resident who has been impacted by the coal ash disaster please contact us as well.

United Mountain Defense is a 501c3 non profit. We are an all volunteer run organization. If you want to help from your home feel free to do a fundraiser where you live. We need money for bottled water, copies of outreach materials, gasoline, and laboratory work for water quality sampling. You can mail checks to United Mountain Defense P.O. Box 20363 Knoxville, TN 37920 OR use the PayPal account on our website: www.unitedmountaindefense.org

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

12-28-08: UMD Saturates Kingston Public Meeting

Dear folks,

Volunteers for United Mountain Defense handed out flyers announcing the Public Meeting that was scheduled to happen in Kingston, TN at 4:30pm. We also distributed copies of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) dealing with different grades of coal ash. The information contained on these Safety sheets suggests that as this coal ash dries out and becomes more airborne that everyone should wear single or double filter respirators. Also each house should have a HEPA filter and change the filter once a week. United Mountain Defense volunteers were reporting having soar throats at the end of the day today after being in the disaster zone all day. We will be purchasing respirators for our ground crews. It will be an interesting day as we deliver MSDS information to local residents while wearing lung protection. United Mountain Defense volunteers continued to deliver clean bottled water to residents on Swan Pond Rd.

Many residents orginally stated that they either didn’t know about the public meeting or weren’t planning on attending until United Mountain Defense volunteers delivered an annoucement flyer.

United Mountain Defense volunteers arrived an hour before the meeting in an effort to set out free informational materials dealing with the coal ash. The meeting got so large that we had to move across the street to the high school gym. Once inside United Mountain Defense volunteers set up a slide projector which continuously scrolled more than 120 photos taken by the Hurricane Creek River Keeper John L. Wathen taken from the Emory River where the coal ash spill was migrating into the river. We also saturated the audience with free safety information.

The meeting was called by the city of Kingston and many of the directly impacted residents live in Harriman. Once we arrived at the meeting we were informed that Kingston residents would take priority over other speakers. Of course the most directly impacted residents of Harriman felt their concerns were taking a back burner. United Mountain Defense had cameras rolling and recorded the entire meeting. There were many concerned residents with some very fiery speeches.

Here is what TVA said they would do for impacted residents:

  • TVA promised to pay for testing of anyone’s well water in the area of the coal ash disaster.
  • TVA promised to hold one or more public meetings about a new coal ash waste gypsum storage facility that is being built very near the disaster site.

  • TVA agreed to have an independent design assessment team look over the designs of this new waste storage area.
  • TVA agreed to independent surveys of all of their ash ponds.
  • TVA promised to install sprinklers at anyone’s property to help keep the coming ash dust down around impacted residents homes.
  • TVA promised to install fencing along water ways and the sludge disaster area to keep children and pets out of the area.

After the meeting there was an informal question session and I had the chance to ask about the two unsafe levels of contaminants found in drinking water according to TDEC sampling. I asked this question to a Kingston City Council member and to Tom Kilgore TVA’s CEO. Kilgore looked as white as a sheet after having to dish out the company line for more than 3 hours and wasn’t in any state to answer my question. I decided to call TDEC for more info today. I have a call back pending.

Thanks for your work and time. We are very busy here in the ground. United Mountain Defense is a 501c3 non profit. We need funds for copies, bottled water, gas, and to help charge up the cell phone.

If you can make a donation go our website at www.unitedmountaindefense.org or send a check to United Mountain Defense P.O. Box 20363 Knoxville, TN 37920

Thank you for your time.

Till then , Matt Landon full time volunteer staff person for United Mountain Defense

12-27-08: UMD at Kingston Public Meeting – TVA Coal Ash Spill

Dear folks,

UMD volunteers detained

United Mountain Defense volunteers spent yesterday Dec 27, 2008 delivering Material Safety Data Sheets about fly ash and announcements about the Public Meeting in Kingston to the coal impacted citizens around TVA’s coal ash spill site. We also mobilized volunteers from the Hurricane Creek Keeper of Tuscaloosa, AL and Upper Watauga River Keeper of Boone, NC to paddle up the river and gather samples of river water, sludge, and document all the impacts they could see. While in route they were interviewed by a New York Times reporter in a bass boat. They are sending their samples to a Toxicity Lab at Appalachian State University and are hoping to get the results back on Tuesday. After the flotilla scanned the area for no trespassing/warning/danger signs, which they could not find, they paddled directly into TVA’s coal ash spill area. They observed TVA damming the river with large rip rap, rocks. There are rumors that TVA may be re- routing the river around this dam, potentially turning this river section into a MASSIVE slurry pond. Of course once the paddlers made it to the disaster site they could not be accessed by the motorized boats of the TVA or local police due to the shallow water level. Upon completion of gathering samples the three paddlers surrendered to TVA police and received warning citations for trespassing and were set free. The immediate tests they took showed the highest conductivity level of 209 at the coal ash spill site. The conductivity level further down river was 80. At another site on the Lakeshore Rd in the inlet the conductivity reading was over 300. Conductivity shows the amount of dissolved metals or salt in the water and the preliminary results we found were not outside of the acceptable range. United Mountain Defense has also sent off the chilled water samples from Day 1-Day 5 to local labs for testing. Look for their video to be posted on the Appalachian Voices website soon.

We just learned last night on the local news the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation stated their water tests showed contaminant levels above safe limits in the drinking water. There was no info about what contaminants, whose drinking water, and what precautions to take. This is truly insane!

The on the ground situation is constantly changing here. There are numerous dump trucks driving very fast down these windy roads to deliver rip rap rock for the river dam. These trucks appear to be overloaded and overweight. United Mountain Defense still has a lot of outreach left to do. Right now the best thing that you can do is help raise funds or send resources for our ground work.

We need money for Sony Premium DVM 60 Digitial Mini Video Cassette Tapes, hundreds of copies @ .10 cents a piece, automobile gas, airplane gas for SouthWings flyovers, bottled water for impacted residents without clean water, recharging the cell phone for media work, and myriad of other expenses. Any help that you could offer would be greatly appreciated. United Mountain Defense is a 501c3 non profit. We are an all volunteer organization, we keep all receipts, and we will make your money stretch as far a possible.

Mail check or gear to P.O. Box 20363 Knoxville, TN 37920

Thank you, Matt Landon

Full time volunteer staff person for United Mountain Defense

The following has been posted to the http://www.roaneviews.com/

Dear Roane County Residents,

We are sorry this disaster has befallen your county. The volunteers of United Mountain Defense are so concerned about your safety that we have been on the ground since Day 1 recording digital video, taking photographs, gathering water/ sludge samples, and distributing bottled water. We have been handing out copies of TVA’s 2007 Kingston Plant Toxic Release Inventory, Material Safety Data Sheets for Coal Ash, and lists of chemicals that may be in the coal ash.

United Mountain Defense is providing free information to all concerned residents. All the information from the water samples we have gathered will be made available to you, the public. We will have slideshows of all our pictures and over 5 hours of video playing during the meeting for all to view. A picture is worth a thousand words and we have hundreds of high resolution pictures. We have also been in touch with other coal impacted communities that have dealt with coal ash spills in the past. These communities have wanted what every community wants, to feel safe and be safe, and to have access to all the information about the spill that may impact their friends, families, and local environment. Folks from the Forward Township in PA said they worked with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the Center for Disease Control. United Mountain Defense will help start this process by having a one signature per page petition available for residents to sign to begin the process.

United Mountain Defense has been working with coal impacted communities all over East TN and Appalachia since 2005. United Mountain Defense volunteers are trained to understand the importance of keeping your information SECRET and will not share your name or personal information with anyone without your permission. We can help get your UNCENSORED story out to the world. We are posting videos online at YouTube and photos on Photo bucket and Flickr. If you are a coal impacted citizen and would like to speak with us please call at 865 689 2778 or 865 257 4029.

You can check out our daily blog updates at dirtycoaltva.blogspot.com/

Also check out our website: www.unitedmountaindefense.org

Thank You, Good Luck,

Matt Landon full time volunteer staff person United Mountain Defense

12-26-2008: Update from UMD

Today I awoke to a phone call. The kind progressive people of Roane County, TN had allowed me to post to their RoaneViews.com community forum last night. I was delighted to get a phone call and an offer of a work space in the area surrounding TVA’s ash spill area. The local resident was so inspired by the ground truthing, outreach, and daily reports that United Mountain Defense was delivering that we were granted rent free use of the property. For this we are truly grateful.

Check out http://www.roaneviews.com/

After some frantic calls from national media wanting to shoot video footage of birds flapping around in coal sludge/ oil??????? United Mountain Defense volunteers headed out into the field for day 5 of the TVA coal ash spill. Upon meeting the first road block we were ushered into the Media Corral and informed that all roads were closed to anyone who was not a resident or related to a resident, especially media. We were informed that a lieutenant would be by shortly to give us more information about traveling beyond the road block. As United Mountain Defense and Independent Media volunteers took video of the roadblock we were informed that we were interfering with the officer’s work by distracting him and needed to move back to the Media Corral. Of course we were compliant.

As we headed back to the Media Corral we saw two local residents who we had met during the previous 4 days. The elderly lady and her daughter were carrying heavy bags of groceries back from the Kroger’s which was about 1/2 mile from the TVA roadblock. As they neared the roadblock, United Mountain Defense volunteers asked if they would like to have a ride on this overcast drizzly day. Of course they were happy for the chance to have a ride as it was probably nearly a mile down to their property. We cleared the back seats while the TVA officer overlooked and proceeded to drive back through the roadblock with locals in our car. Unfortunately this officer was on to us and stated that we could not get away with such shenanigans. He ordered us back to the Media Corral. The women sighed, picked up their heavy grocery bags and walked out into the cold drizzle back to their home.

The United Mountain Defense volunteers decided that TVA’s Media Corral had not delivered all of the things it promised. We saddled up and headed out. The back entrance to the TVA’s coal ash spill provided more panoramic shots of oozing sludge.

We drove around the back side of the spill area. This area provides views of the coal ash spill as far as the eye can see. We pulled to a stop to take some video and still shots of a handmade sign reading “Clean Coal?” that someone had tied to a tree near the spill. United Mountain Defense volunteers were informed by an overworked, underpaid, and stressed TVA employee that we were trespassing and could not take pictures from this spot. Of course we were compliant with this employee’s demands and proceeded to pull back onto the roadway and continue on our way. By the time that we reached the next road block the TVA employee pulled up next to our vehicle and informed the Kingston Police officer that we had obstructed traffic and trespassed on TVA property and we needed to be arrested. We were informed to pull over and wait to be arrested for taking photographs. Fortunately we pulled right next to a local news crew that was filming the increased police pressure on local residents and the effects this pressure was having on residents that had been through this TVA disaster. We were immediately interviewed at which point we explained who we were and what we were doing, testing water and taking photos. Personally I think it helped having the corporate media covering the story as it was happening to fellow journalists.

As the United Mountain Defense volunteers sat waiting for our citations we were documenting the whole event. We observed many local coal impacted residents being forced to justify who they were and where they lived before being allowed to enter their homes. This treatment of local residents adds a heavy burden to a serious situation. A number of residents feel that they are being treated as criminals when TVA has actually committed the crime of polluting the water, air, and land of Tennessee.

After more than an hour of being detained by a Kingston Police officer we were ordered to leave the area and not return without being arrested. As we were pulling away from the roadblock we were stopped once again by the overworked, stressed TVA employee. He said, “You have a tape of me and if I see that tape anywhere….Look in my eyes….You know….You know….” This employee’s comment caught me off guard in an unfamiliar way. Upon reflection I think that the TVA employee was overworked and scared to lose his job. We are not here to attack individual TVA employees. The TVA Executives are the ones who should be held accountable for the coal ash spill and the resulting destruction to waterways and possible health impacts to local residents.

Here is another account from a group of United Mountain Defense volunteers who were delivering water to residents of Swan Pond Rd.

“We went down to the TVA disaster site (fly ash coal spill) and were waved through the blockade by a TVA officer. As we drove down a residential street 4 United Mountain Defense volunteers started to deliver water to a list of people whom we gave water to two days earlier while one volunteer stayed with the car. Soon after we started passing out the water 3 carloads of TVA police officers came up and saw what we were doing, and started to tell us we had no right to deliver water to these people. We told them that we had talked to a TVA Displaced Resident Hotline representative, and they said, “TVA has told everybody the water just needed to be boiled. And unless their water was turned off, TVA would not pay for or bring these people water.” The TVA police informed us that TVA has been delivering water. We had talked to some coal impacted citizens that said that was true but others said it was not true and that, “TVA has to this day never said anything to them personally.” The TVA officers proceeded to gather the United Mountain Defense volunteer’s personal information and everybody’s pictures as if we were some major suspects of some kind. They did scare some of us, and I must say I was a little uncomfortable about the whole thing. We asked the TVA police why we could not deliver water to the people that needed it. They said looting was a concern. When asked if there had been any looting the TVA police said NO. Then they escorted us out.”

We understand that controlling the movement of the general public could be an important concern for TVA to address, but we think that the real issue is the destruction of the water by TVA’s coal ash spill.

I also just learned that the Kingston City Council will hold an emergency meeting. The following came directly from RoaneViews.com “Councilman Kevin McClure and Councilman Brant Williams have extended an invitation to all who are concerned about the impact of the TVA fly ash spill to attend the emergency City Council meeting on Sunday 12/28 at 4:30pm at the Kingston City Community Center. At this meeting the City of Kingston will begin the process of formulating its official reaction and response to the massive TVA fly ash spill. All concerned citizens should attend. Everyone who wishes to speak or comment will have that opportunity. We cannot place enough emphasis on how vital public input will be in helping us [the City Council] to understand the nature and full magnitude of this disaster. No one in Kingston, on City Council, TVA, or for that matter the State can claim to know what to do. We must be diligent and vocal, in order to retain our voice in the formulation of a reclamation/recovery plan. This will be a laborious and costly process. There will be good news and bad; great progress as well as disappointing delays. However, one thing is certain. We simply cannot sit back and allow those with vested interests in minimizing the public perception of the impact of this spill to dictate the clean-up and reparation process.”

ALRIGHT! I actually have some good media work to report on. It appears that NPR has reported finding some handmade signs posted around the spill area that read “Clean Coal ?” It appears that there is local resistance to TVA’s lies. A United Mountain Defense volunteer just did an interview with the NPR reporter. Look for the story Sunday on Morning Edition.

If you are out there in cyber world please understand that the volunteers of United Mountain Defense are not trained medical professionals. We are not lawyers. We need help at this point. As you can read from the above accounts it is getting more difficult to obtain access to the disaster area so having more people on the ground here will only make this problem worse at this point. Please fundraise from where you live. United Mountain Defense has been on the ground since day 1 and we will continue to be on the ground. Today we plan to deliver more information which we received from the Forward Township, PA which had a similar coal ash spill. We are gathering more water samples. We have heavy metal water testing equipment on site. We will continue to share info for the world about what is happening on the ground here in Harriman, TN.

If you want to help us please raise money. We just spent $32 on copies to distribute to coal impacted residents. We are keeping our receipts and making any money you send stretch as far as possible. Thank you for the donations of time and money. United Mountain Defense is an all volunteer run organization.

Please contact us at 865 689 2778 or 865 257 4029.

Check out our website at www.unitedmountaindefense.org

Thanks, Matt Landon full time volunteer staff person for United Mountain Defense

12-27-2008: Greetings from Harriman TN, site of the spill

I brought 2 conductivity meters for water testing down to the spill scene yesterday – along with Ph and dissolved oxygen testing equipment – I met up with United Mountain Defense members plus John Wathen of Riverkeepers (former chair of Citizens Coal Council)

We tried to drive back to the spill site but TVA became irate when we pulled off the road and tried to take some pictures – Matt and I were detained for almost an hour at a check point yesterday – TVA personnel appear to be under great strain, which is understandable but IMO they over-reacted. All we were doing was taking photos. This is a similar situation to what happened in Martin County – they block the roads for “public safety.” Even the media is having trouble getting access now.

TVA completely underestimated the size of the spill, they are now saying 5.3 million cubic yards, thats 200 gallons per cubic yard so this is over 1 billion gallons in size. Apparently the stuff was stacked over 50 feet high – as high as a 5 story building.

If a dump truck can hold 10 cubic yards, it will take 500,000 trips to haul away all the ash (they are taking it back to the power plant). If they make one trip every 5 minutes, it will thus take 2.5 million minutes to clean up the spill – there are 525,000 minutes in a year so that means it would take 4.7 years to clean up the spill at these estimated rates.

Below is a great aerial video of the spill, best I have seen.

I have been working with National Public Radio, CNN, ABC World News Tonight and NY Times – there is a flotilla of water testers going out today on kayaks.

Please have news media call Chris in Knoxville at 865 257 4029.

Dave Cooper