Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tennessee county moves toward turning strip mine into landfill for TVA's coal ash from Kingston

"In a sardine-like packed courtroom," comisssioners in Cumberland County, Tenn., voted 11-5 last week to allow a company to seek a permit that would transform a former strip mine into a dump for coal ash, Gary Nelson of the Crossville Chronicle reports. Smith Mountain Solutions LLC is attempting to use the 300-acre strip mine along the border of Cumberland and Morgan counties, on the Cumberland Plateau.

The coal ash would primarily come from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant, and the landfill would store other coal byproducts. Advocates of the plan say it would create jobs, reclaim land, and provide more than $5 million in county revenue, but environmentalists object, Bob Fowler reports for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Nargie Buxbaum, told Fowler that she is disappointed in the commissioners: "The few million dollars the county might expect in the future is putting our air, water and land at risk.” (Read more)

The opponents are dominating a self-selected, onlline survey on the Chronicle Web site. About five of seven who chose to register an opinion said they don't like the proposal, while about one in seven say they like it and slightly fewer said they needed more information before deciding. (We wish news outlets that run online "polls" would remind readers that they are not scientific samples of public opinion.)

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