On Monday, toxic coal sludge burst through a retention wall in eastern Tennessee, causing massive property and environmental damage. Federal studies have shown that coal ash contains “significant quantities of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems.” The incident — already being called the “largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States” — may now be even worse than originally anticipated. Tennessee Valley Authority officials “initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled” in the disaster. Yesterday, however, they “released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep.”
Tennessee coal ash disaster three times larger than originally estimated.