The Worst United States Man-Made Disasters: Coal Ash Spill in Tennessee

Jennie Wood

Coal Ash Spill in Tennessee
tennessee coal ash spill
In the early morning hours of Dec. 22, 2008, dam walls burst near Kingston, Tennessee., and out poured 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash becoming the worst industrial spill in U.S. history. Ten years worth of ash, containing arsenic, selenium, lead, and radioactive materials spilled into Kingston, which had a population of 5,934.
While coal isn't classified as a hazardous material by the Environmental Protection Agency, the metals it contains can cause cancer, liver damage, neurological disorders, and other health issues. In the years since the spill, Kingston residents have been diagnosed with headaches, respiratory problems, seizures, and other aliments. Researchers have also found high levels of the toxins in fish in the nearby Tennessee, Clinch and Emory (pictured above) rivers.
Photo source: AP Photo/Wade Payne
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