6 Clean Water and Sanitation (15)
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Public meeting about solutions to remove solid waste in downtown Knoxville is set for Sept.14
KNOXVILLE — On Thursday, Sept. 14, the city, MSW Consultants and DSM Environmental will present findings from the 2023 Downtown Solid Waste Study. The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Lox Salon, 103 W. Jackson Avenue.
Members of the public are welcome to attend and learn about how downtown solid waste and recycling is currently being collected, costs involved, and a look at future collection options.
The Downtown Solid Waste Study was launched to address concerns about downtown growth and increased solid waste production. The city currently spends more than $550,000 each year for downtown trash and recycling services.
— City of Knoxville
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The green floater, a freshwater mussel native to the waters of Southern Appalachia, is now formally considered at risk of extinction due to the loss and fragmentation of its aquatic habitat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the green floater, historically found in 10 eastern U.S. states, is likely to become endangered due to existing and emerging threats. The service is proposing to list the mussel as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The green floater is still found in its native range in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. It is considered locally extinct in Alabama and Georgia.
While the species has strongholds in places, green floaters are rare in nearly 80 percent of the watersheds where they naturally occur. More than 75 percent of the nation’s native freshwater mussel species are endangered or threatened, considered to be of special conservation concern, or presumed extinct, according to USWFS.
Earth Day activities have cooled in Knoxville over the decades. The planet has not.
KNOXVILLE — It’s been 52 years since the modern environmental movement was born on what is now known around the world as Earth Day.
Now reckoned to be the world’s largest secular observance, Earth Day is the climax of Earth Week (April 16 to 22), which brings together an estimated billion people around the globe working to change human behavior and push for pro-environment economic and legislative action. This year’s theme is “Invest in the planet.”
Events marking Earth Day in Knoxville tend to vary in size and tone from year-to-year, with 2023 providing environmentally minded residents with a number of ways to celebrate Mother Earth.
Perhaps the most memorable of those years was the very first one, when one of the most important voices in the burgeoning environmental movement spoke on the University of Tennessee campus.
Jane Jacobs, who is now recognized as “the godmother of the New Urbanism movement,” gave a lecture to a crowd of nearly 200 people on the topic of “Man and His Environment” at the Alumni Memorial Hall, according to Jack Neely, who heads the Knoxville History Project.
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KNOXVILLE — Volunteer registration is open for the 34th Ijams River Rescue on Saturday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A severe weather date is set for Saturday, April 22.
Ijams Nature Center’s annual event removes tons of trash and tires from sites along the Tennessee River and its creek tributaries. Sites are typically located in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Loudon counties.
“During this cleanup, between 500-1,000 volunteers come together to make a tangible, positive difference in their community,” Ijams Development Director Cindy Hassil said. “It’s eye-opening to participate because you really get to see what ends up in our waterways. Hopefully it makes people more aware of how they dispose of trash and recyclables, and inspires them to look for ways to reduce the amount of waste they create.”
There are cleanup sites on land, along the shoreline (boots/waders recommended) and on the water (personal kayaks/canoes required).
High-profile cleanup to commence on South Knoxville Superfund site, but what about the other toxic sites?Written by Ben Pounds
Vestal community leans into future of multiple South Knoxville Superfund sites
KNOXVILLE — City residents are discussing the future of the Vestal community’s toxic sites after a long history of industrial use and activism that recently led to federally funded action to clean up at least one infamous Superfund site.
Vestal community resident Cathy Scott shared the history of each of these sites near Maryville Pike at South Knox Community Center during two Vestal Community Organization meetings related to the cleanup of multiple Superfund sites on the south side of the city.
She said in an email to Hellbender Press that much of her information came from John Nolt, formerly of the University of Tennessee Philosophy Department and author of the essay “Injustice in the Handling of Nuclear Weapons Waste: The Case of David Witherspoon Inc.,” which is chapter three of the book “Mountains of Injustice: Social and Environmental Justice in Appalachia.”
While the EPA is focusing on the Smokey Mountain Smelter site, Scott, Nolt and others have discussed other properties and their effects on nearby watersheds. The sites are all connected to the Witherspoon family. They are at are at 1508 Maryville Pike; 1630 Maryville Pike and adjacent land; 901 Maryville Pike and 4430 Candoro Ave. The meetings took place Feb. 13 and 22.
“It was a phenomenal accomplishment of community collaboration,” Eric Johnson, president of Vestal Community Organization, said of the two meetings.
Potential water runoff issues stall future Oak Ridge landfill construction
OAK RIDGE — A landfill intended to hold potentially toxic debris from the demolition of legacy Oak Ridge research facilities is moving forward but construction won’t start until it is definitively determined whether the site could pollute ground and surface water.
As reported previously by Hellbenderpress, environmentalists fear toxins leaking out of the proposed landfill could contaminate waterways and make their way into fish that people might catch downstream. The landfill’s contractor, however, said leaving buildings full of toxic residue standing may be more dangerous for workers and nearby residents and the landfill will help get the buildings quickly demolished. The contractor is doing a mock-up study this year to see how best to handle water issues on the future landfill site.
This summer, the contractor United Cleanup Oak Ridge LLC will choose a subcontractor and do field work. Ben Williams, the Department of Energy’s public affairs specialist, said roads and utilities will need to move to get the site ready at that time. But UCOR stated it won’t build the landfill until after a water study spanning “two wet seasons,” beginning later this year.
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TVA solicits public input following release of environmental assessment for Bull Run Fossil Plant decommission
CLAXTON — Tennessee Valley Authority plans to close its Bull Run Fossil Plant (BRF) in Anderson County, but it’s still looking for public input on what comes next.
“As a large, inflexible coal unit with medium operating costs and a high forced outage rate, BRF does not fit current and likely future portfolio needs,” the federal utility said in a draft Environmental Assessment.
TVA is looking at three different options for the future of the structures still standing on the site by the Clinch River near Oak Ridge: taking down all structures; taking down some of them; or leaving everything standing. A recent report lays out the environmental consequences of each of these actions. The report, in draft form, is against that third choice, listing it as only an option for the sake of comparison.
“If the facility is left in the “as-is” condition, it likely would present a higher risk than Alternatives A or B for the potential to contaminate soil and groundwater as systems and structures degrade. As such, this alternative is not a reasonable alternative,” the draft states.
TVA stated its considering removing “all or most of the buildings and structures” on a 250-acre area. After closing the plant, but before any demolitions, TVA will begin by removing components that may be used at other TVA sites, draining of oil and fluids from equipment, taking ash out of the boilers, removing information technology assets, removing plant records and other tasks.
The Bull Run Environmental Assessment is 170 pages long and available for public review. It doesn’t directly tackle the coal ash storage conundrum that has grabbed the attention of politicians, nearby residents and environmental activists, because that issue involves separate regulations.
Global population growth promises a drastic spike in public health emergencies
This story was originally published by The Conversation. Maureen Lichtveld is dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.
There are questions that worry me profoundly as an environmental health and population scientist.
Will we have enough food for a growing global population? How will we take care of more people in the next pandemic? What will heat do to millions with hypertension? Will countries wage water wars because of increasing droughts?
These risks all have three things in common: health, climate change and a growing population that the United Nations determined passed 8 billion people in November 2022, which is double the population of just 48 years ago.
- climate change
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- the conversation
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- maureen lichtveld
- university of pittsburgh school of public health
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Every TVA coal-fired plant in Tennessee is leaking dangerous contaminants at unsafe levels, report concludesWritten by Jamie Satterfield
Report: TVA’s Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis ranks No. 10 in most contaminated U.S. sites
This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.
The Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal ash dumps in Memphis rank among the worst in the nation for contamination of groundwater with cancer-causing toxins, according to a new report that relied on the power provider’s own records.
TVA’s coal ash dumps at the now-defunct Allen Fossil Plant rank as the 10th worst contaminated sites in the country in a report released earlier this month that examined groundwater monitoring data from coal-fired plant operators, including TVA.
TVA’s own monitoring data shows its Memphis dumps are leaking arsenic at levels nearly 300 times safe drinking water limits. Unsafe levels of boron, lead and molybdenum are also being recorded there.
The report, prepared and published by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Earthjustice, shows that coal ash dumps at every TVA coal-fired facility across Tennessee are leaking dangerous contaminants at unsafe levels, including arsenic, cobalt, lithium, molybedenum, boron, lead and sulfate, into groundwater.
Human activities have imperiled our waterways — along with a third of freshwater fish and other aquatic species
This story was originally published by The Revelator.
If we needed more motivation to save our ailing rivers, it could come with the findings of a recent study that determined the biodiversity crisis is most acute in freshwater ecosystems, which thread the Southern landscape like crucial veins and arteries.
Rivers, lakes and inland wetlands cover 1 percent of the Earth but provide homes for 10 percent of all its species, including one-third of all vertebrates. And many of those species are imperiled — some 27 percent of the nearly 30,000 freshwater species so far assessed by the IUCN Red List. This includes nearly one-third of all freshwater fish.
How did things get so bad? For some species it’s a single action — like building a dam. But for most, it’s a confluence of factors — an accumulation of harm — that builds for years or decades.
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From the courthouse to the river, Chris Irwin strives for purity
This is the first installment of an occasional series, Hellbent, profiling citizens who work to preserve and improve the Southern Appalachian environment.
KNOXVILLE — Chris Irwin scarfed some french fries and drank a beer and told me about his plans to save the Tennessee River.
We sat at a riverside restaurant downtown between the bridges. Not even carp came up to eat a stray fry, but a mallard family hit the free starch hard.
I asked him what he saw as we looked out over the river in the still heat of late summer.
“You know what I don’t see?” he said. “People swimming.” It was truth. Nobody was fishing either, in the heart of a metro area pushing a million people. Signs warning against swimming and fishing weren’t readily visible, but he said an instinctive human revulsion likely makes such warnings unnecessary.
“We all know it’s an industrial drainage ditch.”
Ancient river, new threats: Water quality officials declare 19 miles of French Broad River in NC impaired by pollutantsWritten by Jason Sandford
Booming construction and development, combined with more frequent heavy rains and an aging stormwater system, continue to threaten the age-old Appalachian river
ASHEVILLE — North Carolina water quality officials declared a 19-mile section of the French Broad River in Buncombe County as officially “impaired” because of fecal coliform levels found during recent testing. It’s a sobering alarm bell (though there have been plenty of warning signs, as you’ll see below.) In Asheville, interest in the river as an economic force and tourist destination has never been higher. (The confluence of the French Broad and Holston rivers forms the Tennessee River above Knoxville.)
The designation will come as no surprise to even casual observers of the wide, northward-flowing river. Often, it runs a chocolate brown color, a clear sign of the sediment and other pollutants running through the waterway.
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Amid the booze bottles and toilet paper, it’s ‘incredible what we found here’
Cleanup crews cleared garbage Earth Day weekend across Great Smoky Mountains National Park from mountain crests to the shores of Fontana Lake.
Save Our Smokies, which organized the April 23 event, called it the largest single cleanup ever attempted in the park. Volunteers wrangled some 5,000 pounds of garbage.
Save our Smokies Vice President Benny Braden said the organization removed 10,133 pounds of trash in all of 2021.
“Litter is a big problem. We can clean up a location and two months later we have to be back there because it’s worse than when we started,” Braden said in an interview Saturday morning at the Tremont section of the national park. “What gives us hope is our volunteers showing up,” he said, citing their tireless dedication.