Sometime after midnight , December 22, 2008 , the Coal Ash Waste Pond by the Kingston Coal Fuel Plant in Kingston , TN , started collapsing. The dyke had been leaking, which shows up on the satellite pictures which were taken before the disaster happened. By zooming in Google Maps Street View and following along with the moving van carrying the camera, the spots of leakage can be seen.
The emergency crews were called out, and no one knew what to do because a command center was not set up. The rescue people who first arrived went from house to house looking for victims making sure that no one had died. Still no command center was set up. After a while someone asked who was in charge, and someone pointed to Kilgore, the CEO of the TVA plant. Kilgore did not set up a command center and it was mass confusion. Emergency drills had not been practiced, as they thought that a disaster would not happen to them.
I woke up about 9:30 am to planes and helicopters flying in the sky. It was like a war zone out side. I walked out on my deck and on the lake was fishing boats full of men heading towards the TVA plant, and there was a white muddy looking film on the top of the lake. I ran back into the house and turned on the local news and there it was. The horrible toxic coal ash disaster was right there on the TV. I thought that the ash was on the other side of the plant and didn’t even drive out the road to look at it. My dad called me later and told me to drive out my road and take a look, because he said it was horrible. I did what he said and there it was just three houses down from mine. I sat and cried. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Our beautiful lake was now ugly and contaminated and noisy from all the commotion going on both sides of the lake.
I live on Emory River Road across from the actual disaster. People came from all over to view the disaster. Cars were turning around in my driveway nonstop. I started coughing and having headaches. My throat started getting scratchy and my voice sounded raspy. My eyes started burning and itching. I started coughing up phylum and my ears even itched. I didn’t know what was happening. I thought that I was coming down with a virus. It never went away.
I was contacted by the United Mountain Defense to take a heavy metal testing, and I was happy to take the test. UMD had gotten a grant to cover the cost of 29 persons to get the test free. I went into the hospital about a month later having chest pains and had to have a stint put into one of my arteries. While I was in the hospital, I stopped coughing, the headaches went away, the raspy throat went away and I felt better. When I returned home, all the same symptoms came back.
On January 31, I flew to Delaware to take some training on air sampling so that we could do independent air sampling and all my symptoms when away while I was gone and when I returned all the symptoms came back. I got the results back from the heavy metal testing and I had higher than the range levels of aluminum, tin, antimony, bismuth, silver, and nickel. The test showed that I also have a skin disease called porphyria which is connected to heavy metal poisoning. To think that all the 40 years that I have lived at my house, I had been breathing in toxic coal fly ash from the ponds when the wind blew. I never new that there was fly ash in the ponds.
I could go stay with my daughter in Nashville to get away from all this toxic fly ash, but there are people in the Swan Pond area who need help to get out of there. All they breathe is dust and toxic coal fly ash, and listen to trucks going by 24/7 and blasting from the quarry where they get the gravel. The trucks are moving fly ash from one place to another. Therefore, toxic fly ash if getting spread where ever these trucks travel. How can anyone live in this type environment?