Elaine Steele’s home sits on a hill simply above the place 5.four million cubic yards of coal ash spilled after a dike containing the pond ruptured at Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston energy plant in Roane County, Tennessee, in December 2008. For months later, she watched as women and men employees cleaned up a whole bunch of acres of thick, poisonous grey sludge.
She instructed The Every day Beast they dug out “iceberg-sized” mounds of coal ash, a poisonous byproduct of burning coal, to clear roads and bushes and discover buried properties. The employees she noticed had been at all times coated within the sludge from head to toe. “We’d see them out working day and night time, and I by no means as soon as noticed anybody carrying protecting gear,” Steele mentioned.
The Kingston spill is among the worst environmental disasters in U.S. historical past. Coal ash, which comprises poisonous metals like mercury, arsenic, and cadmium, smothered the water and soil in rural Roane County, and a decade later, residents like Steele are nonetheless unaware of whether or not the toxins have been eliminated—or in the event that they ever shall be.