What are the environmental impacts of the Tennessee ash spill?



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    Well there is at least arsenic, selenium, lead and radioactive materials including chromium and barium present due to the spill. “It’s like dumping the periodic table into everyone’s drinking water,” said Anna George, a scientist with the Tennessee Aquarium Research Institute who has for months been testing the waters and fish near the spill site. The TVA and the Environmental Protection Agency have released reports indicating that the air, water and general environment here are safe. But many people are suffering serious side-effects and the Tennessee Valley Authority says there are not health problems but says, “don’t touch it, don’t breathe it, don’t let your kids near it”. Duke University did a study immediately after the spill and concluded that suspended ash could indeed cause a health concern for local people. The study also concluded that the coal ash caused contamination in surface waters and that accumulation of toxic contaminants in river sediment could poison fish. Studies show that ingesting arsenic, an ingredient in the coal ash that spilled from the TVA site, at certain levels could cause cancer. In fact, a study released by environmental groups and universities in May found levels of arsenic 260 times the federal drinking water standard — and lead levels at least 16 times the drinking water standard. In summation though we still do not know all the affects; though some in the local environment and for fish and wildlife are becoming clearer it may take decades to realize the full affect on humans.

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