The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: tva coal ash

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Compass: Unknown if Jamie Satterfield's exit tied to impassioned, personal pleas she made to Anderson County Commission

Jamie Satterfield, a journalist known for her aggressive coverage of the deadly TVA coal slurry spill in 2008 in Kingston and other environmental problems related to coal ash and its storage, is departing the Knoxville News Sentinel at the end of the month, Compass reported in its daily newsletter.

The News Sentinel declined comment on her departure; she did too -- until Sept. 2.

Satterfield's byline was always a comfort to see because you knew you were reading something written by someone who not only knew how to tell a good story, but how to do it with intelligence, talent, passion, accuracy and grace.

In addition to her award-winning environmental reporting, mainly focused recently on the dangers of coal ash after at least 50 workers perished after coal-spill remediation efforts in Kingston, she was a keen crime reporter who could tell a great, if ultimately sad, story.

Satterfield is a native of Gatlinburg.

The News Sentinel's highest-profile reporter will depart the paper Sept. 1, Compass reported.

Her departure follows a heart-felt address to the Anderson County Operations Committee during an August meeting in which she implored them to shut down a playground where Duke University researchers concluded there was coal ash toxicity. The exchange was captured on YouTube, according to Compass.

"During the meeting, Satterfield went to the podium and identified herself as a News Sentinel representative. She touched on the toxins in coal ash, criticized TVA, talked about the diseases afflicting the former workers and called on the committee to take action," Compass reported.
 
“'You all can protect children, starting today, and you can hold TVA accountable,'" she said, choking back tears. Twice during her nearly eight-minute address, she said she would probably be fired for speaking out."
 

It was an apparent breach of journalistic etiquette and ethics for a seasoned, traditional news reporter who is expected to be a dispassionate observer.

Published in Feedbag

IMG 4207Alex Pulsipher holds a sign demanding that TVA transition to 100 percent renewable energy at a rally Wednesday in Market Square in Knoxville. Courtesy Amy Rawe/Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Varied environmental groups offer unified plea for clean energy, coal ash management and accountability from TVA

It was people power generating energy at Market Square in downtown Knoxville on Wednesday.

A coalition of civic and environmental groups and their representatives met at the bottom of the two Tennessee Valley Authority towers urging the public utility to reopen meetings to public comment; swear off all fossil fuels by 2030; and carefully tend to the needs of those affected by coal ash and devise a plan to contain it for the safety of current and future generations.

The event was punctuated by a march around the Market Square block where some 60 sign-waving and chanting marchers received supportive horn honks from motorists and encouragement from multitudes of outdoor diners — some of whom were handed information sheets and may have just been introduced to the real concept and causes of climate change.

The last portion of the event featured coal-ash workers, a widow, orphan and wife sharing the pain associated with cleanup of the Kingston coal ash spill, which sent a wicked stew of slurry through areas adjacent to that coal plant in December 2008. Dozens of workers laboring under a contractor for TVA eventually developed serious illnesses and died. 

Other coal-ash issues faced by TVA include recent reports that a playground and sports field adjacent to its Bull Run Fossil Plant in Claxton, Tennessee were contaminated with potentially deadly byproducts of coal ash mounded for storage nearby.

Despite a decades-long effort to reduce local plant production, TVA is still a notable contributor to fossil-fuel emissions, ranging from its coal plants (which, including Bull Run, are up for retirement soon) to its natural gas-fired plants. Attendees at Wednesday’s rally called for a complete retirement of TVA carbon emissions and a transition to the use of purely renewable electricity

TVA likely plans to replace the bulk of its power generated from coal-fired plants with natural-gas derived electricity.

Published in Air

News Sentinel: Toxic ash fill at Claxton ball field uncapped and unsealed

Tennessee Valley Authority used a mix of coal ash and dirt for fill during construction of a playing field that was later leased to Anderson County and the local Optimist Club for public use, reported Jamie Satterfield of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

She had earlier reported an adjacent playground was contaminated by coal ash byproducts, including heavy metals and multiple other toxins. The contaminants likely originated from coal-ash piles at the nearby Bull Run Fossil Plant. 

Anderson County and the Claxton Optimist Club operate the playground and sports fields, which are still owned by TVA.

The playground was built about 20 years ago, during which time coal ash disposal was lightly regulated. The disposal of coal ash from facilities such as Bull Run coal plant, which will be closed by 2023, has proven a major environmental problem and challenge for utilities across the country.

Published in Feedbag

News Sentinel: Playground near TVA’s Bull Run Fossil Plant contaminated by coal ash

Testing by independent Duke University researchers indicates a playground in the Claxton community contains dangerous levels of coal-ash byproducts.

The playground is near the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Bull Run steam plant, which has historically used vast amounts of coal to produce electricity and stored the resultant coal ash in huge landfills near the facility on Melton Hill reservoir near Oak Ridge. The plant will be decommissioned within two years, but questions remain about how TVA will handle the tons of remnant coal ash produced over the lifetime of the plant.

Duke University researchers sampled soil from the site, and results showed high levels of heavy metals and other toxins typically present in coal ash.

TVA maintains its testing has not detected harmful levels of contaminants in the area, but the News Sentinel’s Jamie Satterfield, who was been relentless in her investigations of TVA coal-ash policies and the disastrous Kingston coal slurry spill of 2008, noted that “There are no human health guidelines, however, for substances like coal ash that combine many toxins or radioactive metals.”

Published in Feedbag