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Sat Jul 15, 2017, 12:47 AM

Toxins in water under Tennessee power plant causing alarm

Source: Associated Press


Adrian Sainz, Associated Press Updated
7:05 pm, Friday, July 14, 2017


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis residents are as proud of their sweet-tasting water as their barbecue and blues. The water — drawn from the Memphis Sand aquifer beneath this Tennessee city — is so revered that a city utility called it a "community treasure" in an online report on its cleanliness.

So alarms went off after state environmental officials and the Tennessee Valley Authority revealed this week that high levels of arsenic and lead had been found in groundwater beneath the coal-fired Allen Fossil Plant in southwest Memphis. The toxins were detected in wells where pollution is monitored from ponds that hold coal ash — the dirty byproduct left from burning coal to generate electricity.
 
One well had arsenic at levels more than 300 times the federal drinking-water standard. The monitoring wells run about 50 feet (15 meters) deep and are about a half-mile (.8 kilometer) from far deeper wells drilled by the TVA directly into the Memphis Sand aquifer. Next year, the TVA plans to pump 3.5 million gallons (13.2 million liters) of water out of the aquifer per day to cool a natural gas power plant that is replacing the aging Allen coal plant.
 
A layer of clay lies between the groundwater and the aquifer. This prompted the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, through spokesman Eric Ward, to state that it is "confident the contaminants found in TVA wells at the Allen Fossil Plant are not impacting drinking water."

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Toxins-in-water-under-Tennessee-power-plant-11290206.php

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 12:53 AM

1. The aquifer, which to my recollection is mostly north of Memphis

Was an amazing source of clean water, at least when I lived there, nearly twenty years ago!! No surprise the plants in the area have polluted the ground water.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 12:54 AM

2. I would be sending off a jar of water from my faucet to a lab for testing.

And getting a Bumper sticker: "Mephis - the new Flint, MI"

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 01:34 AM

3. I'm sure the free hand of the market is fixin' to punish those power co. polluters any minute now.

Who needs the EPA?

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #3)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 08:22 AM

8. That'd be the "Invisible Hand" of the Free Market.

There is a reason it is invisible. Just like unicorns.

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #3)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 08:53 AM

10. Arsenic and lead build character

If people don't like it, they can buy their own Perrier

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #10)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 03:10 PM

16. Can't forget this about Perrier though

The company that made bottled mineral water chic is voluntarily recalling its entire inventory of Perrier from store shelves throughout the United States after tests showed the presence of the chemical benzene in a small sample of bottles.

The impurity was discovered in North Carolina by county officials who so prized the purity of Perrier that they used it as a standard in tests of other water supplies.

The Food and Drug Administration said it is testing supplies in California and other states. In a written statement issued last night, Ronald V. Davis, president of the Perrier Group of America Inc., said there was no significant health risk to the public. But the statement did not go into the details of the recall, how it would work, the number of bottles to be recalled and the impact on a company that has built its success on its product's image of purity and stylishness.

William M. Grigg, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, said his agency's Hazard Evaluation Board had collected samples of Perrier and found no immediate risk to the public from the benzene in the water.

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/10/us/perrier-recalls-its-water-in-us-after-benzene-is-found-in-bottles.html

The company took a big hit after the recall.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 01:36 AM

4. Oh, yeah, how come the media never reports on windmills ruining water aquifers? FAKE NEWS!!!

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Response to Midnight Writer (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 03:24 AM

5. I always like the stories to be complete.

If there's Pb and As at 300 times the federal limit, I like them to say the actual amounts with error bars to show repeated sampling, and I like them to explicitly say that the levels have increased by saying what the previous tests in that spot were and what levels are farther from the hot spot they're discussing.

It lets the inference everybody draw just possibly be valid. Perhaps that would put the kibosh on the story except as pure information, or make it a huge problem that's been there forever. Either way, change suddenly isn't the issue.

I've been caught too many times by articles that are like this, but if you dig and *can* find the numbers you realize the story's warped. Either the data are part of a much larger problem or an older problem. So there were instances of water catching on fire because of dissolved methane near where fracking was occurring; inference is fracking caused it, but you could find news stories decades before fracking dealing with the same problem in the same area. Or there are high levels of As in one pumping station, but it turns out it's not because of industry but because of the kind of rock that the well's digging through, or it's widespread and not at that one station. Or they tested water 20 times, and 19 times it showed 0.002 ppm of whatever and one time 150 ppm--but the story only cites the outlier, without mentioning it's probably a mistake.

Even the Flint, MI, story was annoying. It was like pulling hen's teeth to get distribution data, which showed that much of the town was unaffected. But in those areas reporters still managed to find water samples that were contaminated because of lead pipes in the building not contaminated water entering the building--the contamination starting in the walls and probably having happened for decades. The truth should never be subservient to a reporter's Truth. Even if reducing the sensationalism reduces the outrage.

At the same time, there have been a lot of stories like this where the inference--"there's contamination and something must be done"--is exactly right. Then adding the background would confirm the rightness of the inference and it's appropriate to be outraged. Either way, the background is a win.

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Response to Igel (Reply #5)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 08:50 AM

9. In Flint, the lead pipes have always been there, but the change in the water started leaching lead

at a much higher rate. The water previously reacted with the lead to form a protective layer in the pipes. So while there was some level of lead leaching into the water all along, it used to be so small as to not be a major hazard. Your notion that "the contamination starting in the walls and probably having happened for decades" contains the very concept you are railing against.

Doesn't matter where the lead enters the water, it was the predicable change in the water's ability to pull lead from the pipes that was the story.

Suggesting that the reporting of lead and arsenic in ground water under where coal ash is stored is based on one outlier test is ridiculous. Having worked in an environmental testing lab, doing inorganic and metals analysis, I can safely say that when gets a result 300 times the federal limit for drinking water, you immediately retest the hell out that well. You certainly don't report it to the media, you don't report it at all until you conclusively prove that you haven't screwed up.

I once detected mercury from a monitoring well at an auto wrecking site at just above the detection limit, the absolute minimum of what can be found. It was cause for resampling and retesting by multiple analysts before the results were accepted as an actual finding. A detection at 300 times the drinking water standards would be cause for a full study.

Your post tries to cast doubt on two cases of environmental contamination and only serves the "business as usual" corporate line. Yes, details matter, but the general public doesn't understand the details of chemical analysis, they are rarely reported in a main stream media release.

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Response to Igel (Reply #5)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 01:20 PM

15. If the information is from monitoring wells

then these are actually monitoring the areas where the material was landfilled. A bunch of different heavy metals leach out of coal ash if it is allowed to get wet. By definition, fly and bottom ash in not handled as a hazardous waste even if the material actually meets the definition of hazardous waste via standard leaching methods. Coal ash is kind of nasty to begin with. Besides heavy metals, some of the material can actually be slightly radioactive (depending on the source).

My guess is the disposal area is old and there is little to no lining material underneath the ash. In a worst case scenario the material may actually be inundated by ground water. The fact that the monitoring wells are that contaminated tells me the material was not properly disposed of. Either the cap material to prevent water from seeping down into the coal ash has been compromised or the liner (if there is anything at the bottom of the material at all other than "natural clay" has failed. If it's in the monitoring wells then it is quite capable of migrating off site.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 06:47 AM

6. Thank the Lord,,,,

the GOP is doing away with the EPA! geeez
My water comes from the TN river
it tasty
i use it to flush my toilet and bath. thats all
but I know we are going to be great again
and my water will be pure!

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 07:06 AM

7. Ah yes clean coal

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 09:05 AM

11. Both of Tennessee's senators voted to confirm Scott Pruitt,

a known enemy of clean water regulation, as head of Donald Trump's so-called Environmental Protection Agency.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 09:14 AM

12. This the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend.

Courtesy of David Lynch and the new Twin Peaks. Tennessee you have to depend on Scot Pruit. Good luck with that.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 09:46 AM

13. more than half of TN was already drinking foul water

as proven by their voting records

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 11:53 AM

14. Sounds like the death knell for clean water in Memphis.

Last edited Sun Jul 16, 2017, 08:24 AM - Edit history (1)

Stored coal ash is a huge water quality issue. Virginia Dominion Power almost succeeded in getting permission to dump a huge quantity of stored coal ash into the James River, the water supply for Richmond. It took a suit by local activists to stop that.

As for Memphis, they would be advised to refrain from using clean water from a vital water-supply aquifer to cool a power plant.

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Response to Nitram (Reply #14)

Sat Jul 15, 2017, 04:17 PM

17. I was thinking the same thing about the power plant

Why the hell do they need clean water for cooling? Not to mention, why would they need a continuous supply? Can't they recycle it? Pump the used water to the surface, let it cool and reuse it. Apologies in advance if that's a stupid idea.

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