"Alabama’s largest utility plans to bury a heap of toxic coal waste in one of North America’s most biodiverse river systems. Experts say it will put one of the nation’s most pristine wetlands at risk."
"A predawn phone call woke Ron Bledsoe with a jolt. It was his supervisor telling him to come in.
Bledsoe dressed and drove an hour to the power plant, near Kingston, Tennessee, where he worked. He arrived at a shocking sight: A mountain of coal ash covering the road and a set of railroad tracks. It looked like the surface of the moon, he recalled.
Hours earlier, an embankment at the plant had ruptured, flooding the area with gray muck. The spill was an environmental calamity, and the fallout was immediate. The ash blanketed up to 400 acres, killed hundreds of fish, damaged more than a dozen homes and polluted nearby waterways. The clean-up took years and cost more than $1 billion.
Coal ash, an umbrella term for the residue that’s left over when utilities burn coal, is one of the United States’ largest kinds of industrial waste. It contains metals — such as lead, mercury, chromium, selenium, cadmium and arsenic — that never biodegrade. Studies have shown these contaminants are dangerous to humans and have linked some to cancer, lung disease and birth defects.predawn phone call woke Ron Bledsoe with a jolt. It was his supervisor telling him to come in."