The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
3 Good Health and Well-Being

3 Good Health and Well-Being (46)

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

unnamedVicky Wallace gets assistance crossing a creek in her off-road GRIT wheelchair during an adaptive camping outing along Cooper Road Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Yvonne Rogers/Hellbender Press

Adapted to their environment, wheelchair users venture into Smokies backcountry

TOWNSEND — Four wheelchair users ventured this month to an Abrams Creek backcountry campsite in a first for the Smokies.

Borne by GRIT Freedom Chairs, the able trekkers arrived June 8 in a collaborative event featuring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Knox County, Kampgrounds of America Foundation and Catalyst Sports. The intrepid group had headed up about a mile of the wide, gravel Cooper Road Trail over hills toward Campsite 1, past horses, along and through streams, finally reaching their campsite. The three-wheeled, arm-powered GRIT chairs are designed for off-road routes.

For much of the route the adaptive hikers used their arms to move their chairs, but other people accompanied them on foot, sometimes helping them up difficult hills or over streams. Those in the chairs enjoyed the mountain water that rushed over their feet.

Park Ranger Katie Corrigan talked about highlights of the natural world around them and led discussions on the concepts of wildness and wilderness. Just like many other backcountry campers, the group of adventurers ate s’mores and slept in tents at the campsite before heading back down Cooper Road to the trailhead the next day. 

Last modified on Monday, 24 June 2024 13:05
Tuesday, 06 February 2024 00:14

TVA plans for Bull Run Fossil Plant site remain hazy

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Claxton coal plantA public playground near the site of the since-decommissioned Bull Run coal plant in Claxton, Tenn. Tennessee Valley Authority is weighing options for the site’s future.  Abigail Baxter/Hellbender Press

Solar production and public green space remain options; coal ash questions remain

CLAXTONTennessee Valley Authority will demolish most structures at Bull Run Fossil Plant but has not yet shared plans for the ultimate disposition or reuse of the property.

Bull Run Fossil Plant was a coal-fired plant in the Claxton community, located just outside of Oak Ridge in Anderson County, Tenn. The plant opened in 1967. TVA closed it in 2023, and plans to phase out all its coal fired plants by 203.

The utility and its spokesman Scott Brooks have listed the scrubbers, coal handling structures and the large chimney, nicknamed the “lighthouse” by locals, as structures that will likely come down.

TVA has listed some possibilities for the site, including battery storage, park areas, “economic development” and a synchronous condenser, which is a device meant to keep the overall grid's power supply stable without generating any power of its own. This last option would involve keeping and repurposing the turbine building. TVA has not committed to any of these ideas.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 February 2024 00:37

Just released: 5-minute Sierra Club video on Kingston coal ash cleanup. Narrated by Jamie Satterfield.

Workers with engineering firm responsible for cleanup lacked protective gear for handling toxic agents

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

KINGSTON The Roane County Commission this month honored the memory and labor of the workers who cleaned up the Tennessee Valley Authority’s 2008 Kingston coal ash spill by funding a historical marker and approving a proclamation that Dec. 22 will be a day to honor the workers. 

This December marks 15 years since the spill. In the early hours of Dec. 22, 2008 at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant, 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash was released, spilling into the Swan Pond Embayment and the Emory River Channel, covering about 300 acres, according to the Environmental Protection Agency

Coal ash is the concentrated waste left after burning coal. This waste can come in different sized particles from coarse bottom ash with the consistency of sand and gravel to fine dust like particles that compose fly ash. The smaller the particle the more easily these particles can be inhaled or ingested. This waste can contain heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and cadmium and potentially elements that emit radiation. 

Exposure to these elements can potentially cause various health impacts, including cancers

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 February 2024 22:53
Thursday, 07 December 2023 12:15

On tap: Learn how the local Sierra Club is fighting climate change

Harvey BroomeHarvey Broome hiding in a buckeye tree on the way to Hughes Ridge, July 25, 1931.  Albert “Dutch” Roth

KNOXVILLE — The latest round of Conversation on Tap features members of the local Harvey Broome group of the Sierra Club discussing its efforts to address climate change.

It’s set for 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at Albright Brewing Company, 2924 Sutherland Ave. Proceeds from the event will benefit Discover Life in America, a crucial science partner with Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Join Harvey Broome group vice-chairman Jerry Thornton and others to learn more about the local chapter of the Sierra Club and its efforts to address climate change.

Named after a Smokies advocate and Wilderness Society founder, the Harvey Broome chapter of the Sierra Club has been fighting to preserve wild places; create clean, safe communities; and encourage recycling and clean energy since 1972. 


Photograph from the Albert “Dutch” Ross Photograph Collection at the University of Tennessee Libraries

Albert Gordon "Dutch" Roth, born September 20, 1890 in Knoxville, Tennessee, is recognized as one of the most prolific early photographers of the Great Smoky Mountains' Greenbrier and Mount Le Conte sections. An early member of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club, his photographs document club hikes and activities, including the construction of the clubhouse at Greenbrier.

What began in 1913 as a diversion soon developed into a serious avocation as Roth perfected his penchant for photography while avidly hiking the unexplored regions near his home. He worked primarily with a Kodak Autographic 122 camera, and, often carrying a heavy tripod, would climb twenty to thirty feet up a tree or venture hundreds of yards off the trail to capture the landscape images for which he was later noted.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2023 00:49

Half-minute video with olympian and fitness expert Missy Kane.

2023 Mountain Commerce Challenge is almost finished

KnoxvilleLegacy Parks Foundation will wrap up another great year of the Mountain Commerce Challenge on Saturday, December 9 with the 17th Tour de Lights bike ride and celebration. The free and family-friendly holiday bike ride is presented by Visit Knoxville and Bike Walk Knoxville. Riders will meet 4 p.m. at the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center to decorate their bikes before heading to Mary Costa Plaza for the festivities.

Meanwhile, spectators and costume contestants will already enjoy themselves at a more leisurely pace at Holiday Market & Expo, which opens 3:30 p.m. on Mary Costa Plaza by the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.

The glamorous 5-mile pedal parade will circle through East Knoxville neighborhoods to culminate coming down Gay Street.

Illuminated bicycles at nightCourtesy of Bike Walk Knoxville

Those who bring their ‘Challenge Checklist’ showing 75 miles completed will receive a special patch to commemorate all of the great hiking, biking and paddling accomplished this year!

Everyone who registers for the Tour de Lights or the Costume Contest will receive a commemorative T-shirt and be entered for some exciting ‘door prizes.’

Mountain Commerce Challenge 

The Mountain Commerce Challenge is named for Mountain Commerce Bank (MCB), which sponsored this challenge for its third year with a $15,000 donation to the Legacy Parks Foundation. The locally-owned community bank was founded 1910 in Erwin, where it acquired the former Erwin National Bank. MCB is 5-star rated by Bauer Financial and nationally ranks among the top 50 community banks.

Community banks are a cornerstone of community economic resilience because they invest customer deposits in the regional economy. That is particularly important for businesses that depend on regional natural resources and a local workforce with extensive experience and a deep understanding of local conditions.

Last modified on Friday, 12 January 2024 00:38

American-Nuclear-2.jpgThe remains of American Nuclear Corporation in Anderson County, Tenn. The company closed in 1972.  Photo courtesy of Tennessee Lookout

American Nuclear Corporation leaked radioactive chemicals for years before it closed in 1972

This article was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

CLAXTON — An East Tennessee site that has been contaminated for about 50 years with radioactive waste is set to be cleaned up with about $13.5 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation told Anderson County on October 9. 

The American Nuclear Corporation site, located in Claxton, Tennessee, has been a source of concern for Anderson County Government for years. Local officials have reached out at various points since at least 2008 to the state, the EPA and their district’s congressmen for help on cleaning up the site, according to a compilation of county records distributed last year by then County Commissioner Catherine Denenberg to the county’s intergovernmental committee.  

“I don’t know if we’re on camera, but in case we are, I am not going to dance but I am so darn excited about this!” County Mayor Terry Frank said after the announcement at the county’s intergovernmental meeting. “This is huge for Anderson County.”

In the 1960s, the American Nuclear Corporation “manufactured radiological sources for medical institutions,” a 2010 county application for the EPA’s National Brownfield Program grant said. The company had obtained source materials for their products from the Department of Energy. Isotopes that were handled included Cobalt-60 and Cesium-137, the application said. 

“Poor housekeeping was a problem during the entire period that the plant was in operation, and is extensively documented in compliance letters by the Tennessee Department of Public Health — Division of Occupational and Radiological Health. ANC was repeatedly cited for violations involving radioactive material,” the application said.

Last modified on Thursday, 26 October 2023 17:21

Study expounds upon evolution of mosquitoes and their hosts

mosquito-1332382_640.jpg

This story was originally published on Phys.org and authored by Mick Kulikowski, Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations at NC State University

Raleigh, NC — Researchers at North Carolina State University and global collaborators have mapped the mosquito’s tree of life, a major step toward understanding important traits, such as how the insects choose their hosts, feed on blood and spread disease. The findings will help researchers make better predictions to model disease transmission and understand what makes some mosquitoes better disease carriers than others.

The research suggests mosquito evolution over the past 200 million years mirrors the Earth’s history of shifting land masses and changing host organisms, said Dr. Brian Wiegmann, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Entomology at NC State and corresponding author of a paper describing the mosquito family tree

The William Neal Reynolds Professorship is one of the highest distinctions available to NCSU faculty members.The Reynolds Professorships were established in 1950 by William Neal Reynolds, a long-time president and board chairman of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, to recognize and support outstanding faculty achievement in research, teaching and extension.

“This ongoing project builds a big-data resource that mines the academic literature with published observations of the sources of blood mosquitoes drink, from animals as diverse as fish to humans,” Wiegmann said. “It focuses explicitly on data collection to infer aspects of mosquito biology in a contextualized way. That means linking up the family, or phylogenetic, tree with the narrative of life on Earth: geologic history, climate history and organism history.”

SELC settlement protects blue-blood horseshoe crabs and their avian dependents

Red Knot Red Knot.  Creative Commons Mark BY-SA 4.0  Chuck Homler 

CHARLESTON — A landmark settlement prohibits horseshoe crab collection on the beaches of more than 30 islands along the South Carolina coast that are established feeding sites for rufa red knots during their annual migration — as well as any harvesting in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge — for at least five years.

Every spring, red knots time their 9,300-mile migration from South America to the Canadian Arctic perfectly so they stop on the same beaches of South Carolina at the exact moment horseshoe crabs begin to spawn.

These protein-rich crab eggs are critical for red knots, providing the fuel they need to complete their transpolar journey. This delicate relationship between horseshoe crabs and red knots has developed over millions of years.

Tuesday, 15 August 2023 16:44

TWRA investigating fish kill on Pigeon River

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TWRA logo with YouTube video start arrow

Officials mull farm runoff as possible cause

NEWPORT  Tennessee state conservation, agricultural and environment officials are investigating a widespread fish kill along the lower Pigeon River.

The probe began on Aug. 12 after Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officers noticed multiple species of dead fish along the river near Newport.

Aquatic life in the Pigeon River, a popular rafting, kayaking and fishing spot boasting big smallmouth bass, has steadily recovered following years of pollution from the upstream paper mill in Canton. The Pactiv Evergreen site permanently closed earlier this year, after it and previous owners drastically reduced the amount of effluent into the river. Fishing and whitewater sports rapidly took off from there.

TWRA didn’t immediately identify the reason for the fish kill, which remains under investigation, but alluded to sediment and agricultural runoff that spiked during heavy rains this month.

Here is the full news release from TWRA:

“The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are jointly investigating a fish kill on the Pigeon River above Newport. 

“On Friday, TWRA wildlife officers reported dead fish on the Pigeon River from Edwina Bridge down to the Newport police station.  TWRA fisheries biologists responded to the area documenting multiple species of dead fish at several locations. Based on the dispersal of the fish, recent water generation from the dam likely pushed them further downstream while leaving higher numbers of dead fish at the top of the kill zone.

“To determine potential contributing factors, biologists investigated the surrounding area and documented muddy runoff from agriculture fields likely caused by heavy rains in the area.

“TWRA biologists contacted the TDEC field office in Knoxville to assist with the incident and notified the Tennessee Department of Agriculture of the investigation. 

The incident currently remains under investigation.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 November 2023 21:42

IMG 6655Citizens are objecting to plans to replace the coal boilers at Kingston Fossil Plant with natural gas.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

Solar? Gas? Future of Kingston plant up in the air

KINGSTON — Tennessee Valley Authority is considering whether to go with gas or solar power after it closes the infamous Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee.

The plant has stood since 1955 in Roane County. The federal utility plans to close Kingston Fossil plant and is looking at ways to replace the power it generated. It’s asking the public for comments. The utility’s proposals center around replacing the power generated by the plant with either solar generation or natural gas. One option includes replacing the coal-powered plant at the site with a fossil gas plant.

TVA recently proposed to retire three units between 2026 and 2031 and the other six units between 2027 and 2033. Ash spilled from a dike at this plant in 2008. A lawsuit was recently resolved surrounding the health damage to people working on cleaning up the spill. TVA has identified trouble with starting up and shutting down the plant for power generation and technical issues with lower boilers as the reasons for closing the plant, not the spill.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 December 2023 12:26
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