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By DAMON LAWRENCE
Roane County’s request for a TVA-funded long-term health study has been denied.
In a letter to Roane County Executive Mike Farmer, TVA environmental executive Anda Ray said the agency doesn’t feel such a program is necessary at this time.
“Various federal and state agencies have taken thousands of air and water samples since the ash spill,” Ray wrote. “Based on reviews and analysis of this sampling data by multiple agencies, it does not appear that coal ash released during the spill has impacted private wells, spring water, public drinking water, or increased particulate matter or metals concentrations in ambient air around the site.”
Health became a concern after a dike failure at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant released 5.4 million cubic yards of ash into the environment.
The ash contains arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium and zinc, which are hazardous substances.
The Tennessee Department of Health released a health assessment on the ash spill in December.The assessment said the spill is not expected to have any long-term health effects.
The assessment concluded that municipal drinking water, well and spring water were all found to be safe. Eating small amounts of the ash was also determined to be harmless, according to the assessment.
Bonnie Bashor, director of the state’s Environmental Epidemiology Program, said there should be no long-term health effects if the ash does not become airborne and stays out of drinking water.
The county’s long-term recovery committee requested TVA do the long-term health study.
Randy Ellis, a member of the recovery committee, said he’s disappointed by TVA’s decision.
“If they’re claiming there’s not going to be any health effects, then what would be the harm in doing a long-term health study?” Ellis said.
“It upsets me because there’s people still leaving out there in that community that’s having a lot of adverse health problems,” he added. “We need this study.”
In her letter, Ray pointed out that TVA contracted with Oak Ridge Associated Universities to provide free medical screenings for people who have health concerns.