Update from UMD

Submitted by WhitesCreek on December 27, 2008 - 12:32pm.

From Chris Irwin

We tried to drive back to the spill site but TVA became irate when we pulled off the road and tried to take some pictures - Matt and I were detained for almost an hour at a check point yesterday - TVA personnel appear to be under great strain, which is understandable but IMO they over-reacted. All we were doing was taking photos. This is a similar situation to what happened in Martin County - they block the roads for "public safety." Even the media is having trouble getting access now.

Link...


KnightLord's picture
Double Edged Sword?

On the one hand they are responsible to protect the public, even from themselves. On the other hand they are in the middle of a huge "Oh Crap" and they know they're being blamed for it.

Honestly, how many people are qualified to enter such an area for any reason? Even those, whose job it is, aren't qualified, and they know it, so they are acutely aware of the dangers involved, and the possible lawsuits.

It would serve best to go through the process of declaring qualifications to them through official channels and let them decide whether each is worth them taking the risk of allowing them into the disaster zone.

That would indeed be interesting, KL

Unbridled access is not going to do any particular good. If the media had the exprtise necessary to engage in much more than stirring things up it might be a different story. So far I have seen - both on the web and in broadcast - a media feeding frenzy that is not aimed at much more than playing the blame game and implying that anything and everything coming from any source (other than themselves, of course!) is either not worth listening to or is part of some secret plot to promulgate lies. I recognize it as I have spent my time as part of news media myself (broaodcast - radio, to be exact).

There aren't many more stories (fact-wise) to be milked out of endless repetition of the same worwds against a backdrop of gray sludge and puddles. There are stories, and will be more, to be sure, as things develop. But unfettered access to all parts of the affected areas is not necessary. I ask: what more that makes a difference will it produce?

And believe it or not, public safety personnel actually really do have public safety in mind - whether they are local sheriff and police, emergency management, TVA police.

RB

KnightLord's picture
OMG

Did I just say that prudence and compliance were the best ways to approach those dealing with the situation? There really is a first time for everything!!!!

WhitesCreek's picture
Media and Watchdogs must have acceptable access

I talked with several media people who were detained and never allowed in to take pictures. This is not for protecting the public. It's beyond that and into protecting TVA.

KnightLord's picture
Acceptable Access

You're right, though some degree of control still has to be exercised. I was speaking in general, mainly regarding the "Looky Lews", and those who tend to think they're too smart to get hurt.

Two sides to everything, both sides valid, and too much of either is not good.

Seems the news media would have access to a helicopter so they can get aerial shots {safest place to be, IMO}. However, I personally wouldn't mind seeing Liz Tedone take a little back splat into the sludge {personal thing from back in March, 08}.

Define acceptable...

More access to the site where people are trying to work isn't going to allow the media to find out any secrets that the big bad TVA is hiding from them. What's going on - and WILL go on - in labs is what will tell what is really needed to be made known.

RB

KL - I laughed at the Liz Tedone remark...

I can think of SEVERAL folks in her business I'd get ar eal kick out of seeing 'em take a pratfall in the muck. Not near all - some are great - but there a few that richly deserve it :-)

Thanks for the laugh in the middle of all this!

RB

access

I'm for reasonable safety precautions, but I've heard they've blocked access miles from spill area.

Gimme a break!

If something is NOT a safety hazard, they should get out of the way of everyone -- the media, me or even you, if you choose to go see and stay out of the way. Plus who is paying for these "security" check points? We are ... and the cost of this cleanup is going to be staggering. Just what we need after the big TVA rate hikes we've already had and all the budget shortcomings due to the failing economy and a recession that is expected to deepen. (I guess it was the economy, stupid, Mr. bush)

We're footing the bills and we ought to be able to see what's going on from public roadways. This is still America, land of the free, right? Last time I checked, it wasn't a police state.

You can poke your heads in the sand (ash?), but I live nearby. I say let the media ask their questions -- and I think the reporting on most levels has been pretty good. The New York Times story was awesome. Somebody needs to get answers so those of us who are impacted can be assured whatever caused this never happens again and that cleanup is done right. Those in authority certainly don't seem to be volunteering answers.

I've seen how government operates around here checked or unchecked. Just look at the county. Judge Austin. All the missteps in the constable debacle.

I'll take more information and good questions over pat answers from self-serving people any day.

MILES??!

Not hardly. What you have "heard" is wrong. Have you been down there? I have. The blockages I've seen on the road are YARDS, not miles.

Did anybody say that the media shouldn't ask questions?

How ludicrous to compare what is happening now to Tommy Austin. Just doesn't compute/compare. Not everything that goes wrong is connected to corruption. Same for the constable issues. Just simply not in same league,

RB

WhitesCreek's picture
Swan Pond Circle is blocked

Swan Pond Circle is blocked off several miles from any impacted home at the Emory Heights intersection. I was turned back from going to my own place in Swan Harbor because I didn't have an ID that proved I owned the place. I offered to show them my drivers license and sing a piece of paper with the address I was trying to get to and offered to come downtown whenever they wanted if it turned out I was lying. No dice.

That is a stupid and couterproductive as it is ridiculous. They could easily have set up at Lakeshore drive and accomplshed the exact same thing.

Word is that this will be corrected soon.

To be clear...

Are you saying Swan Pond Circle Rd is blocked at both entrances?

That isn't miles from the site or the spillage or from the other side of Circle Rd. Miles a few) may be involved in the distance AROUND Circle Rd.

RB

WhitesCreek's picture
But you've been there...

Don't you know?

We were headed to Swan Harbor and were stopped at Emory Heights, several miles away. Had we been contacted and told that we would have to have proof of ownership to go to our own place, I might have been merely irritated at the silliness. As it was, several people were needlessly inconvenienced.

You don't seem to be a fan of civil liberties, but think about it anyway and maybe look at a map.

I've not been in that way

Not a fan of civil liberties? Right.

RB

As a "sightseer there is

As a "sightseer there is nothing to be accomplished by going any further than the Emory Heights Intersection with Circle Road. The road is blocked on the other end and you can't get close enough to see anything substantial. The traffic put an undue burden on the people who live on the Circle and was actually beneficial to not only the neighborhood but saves the gas and time of driving all the way around to not see anything.
The first mile of Circle Road can give people to scope of this disaster.

Miles indeed

WC, they plan to remove the Emory Heights barricade tonight, they said.

No Government Trust Here!!

RB I appreciate your patriotism but I've lived a little too long to believe that government agencies are our public servants looking out for our best interests. I served in the mans ARMY long enough to understand that the big GOV sees you and I, and every other american as disposable. TVA will not act in our best interests without the presence of the media. Furthermore, Roane County is corrupt!!! A large contingent of our politicians are corrupt!!! Thats just the cold hard truth. If you would like I would be more than happy to document some corrupt incidences that have occurred over the past 25 years.

On with the issue at hand. TVA should not be allowed to hire consultants responsible for reporting hazards, testing, environmental issues, etc. Outside independent watchdog groups should take the lead in performing these tasks. Need I remind you all of the recent radiation leaks at ORNL that infiltrated the ventilation system and exposed a large number of personel to radioactive contamination. ORNL aka the big GOV covered that up and downplayed it until watchdog groups brought it to the public.

How about all of the Oak Ridge workers through out the years that have died resulting from radiation exposure. Did the big GOV just come out and voluntarily offer retribution? NO.

How about the big GOV covering up the deaths of our soldiers to friendly fire and lying to families.

Thats just a few incidences. I could name hundreds more. So RB please spare me the big brother propoganda. I know better.

Crappieman

Do you really think...

... that having served in the Army - which is something you are to be commended for - makes you an expert on all things governmental?

RB

WhitesCreek's picture
I don;t agree with your

I don't agree with your charges, C-Man, but even if you are correct, it would carry more weight if you held them unless you have something to present that backed them up.

Everybody expects the worst out of big entities like TVA but I'm not so sure they aren't acting in good faith at this point.

We are getting to talk with the Plant Manager and the Vice President of Operations, instead of a PR flak, and that speaks volumes all by itself. So far Ron Hall seems like a straight shooter.

Not an expert RB..

I didn't say my experience in the service made me an expert in all things government. But having been an employee of the Gov for a time certainly enlightened me about the slick nature of Gov. Obviously Gov does some great things through various programs. But I know for a fact that Gov has an overwhelming tendency to run a wing T offense if you know what I mean (Smoke & Mirrors)

Crappieman

Access

I personally would not want my neighborhood to become a “tourist attraction”. I am sure the check points are a headache for the residents, but I have to think that they are a better option than the uncontrolled access of all the gawkers, media, and environmental groups who feel the need to take pictures and view the damage. How many more pictures do we need? And, with all of the agencies involved and TVA’s actions to date, I cannot imagine a cover-up is happening.

What picture is UMD going to get that has not already been taken? Why do people feel the need to stir up trouble? So you were detained at a check point. Let’s see … are you an area resident? Were you in the company of an area resident? When you were detained at the check point were you argumentative about why you should be allowed access? I am glad that so many groups have taken an interest in our town/community. I wish we had residents that were smart enough to interpret the results and ensure that we weren’t being lied to.

Too bad none of us have any experience working with or around hazardous materials. I wish some of us Oak Ridge workers received a little training on haz mat. According to today’s paper UTB and BJC are 2 of the top 3 employers in Roane Co. I’ll bet a few of them even live in Swan Pond. I’ll bet a couple of them know as much or more about the hazards that community is dealing with than the UMD people taking pictures.

If you are here to help, then help. Respect the laws, regulations, or whatever restrictions are instituted. We have enough trouble and enough people mad about the situation. I am sure it will get much worse before it gets better. If you are here to promote your organization and bash the local, state, and federal government, then go back home. We (residents of the town/community) can do that on our own.

WhitesCreek's picture
We need an open process in

We need an open process in all of this.

I think TVA means to do the right thing but let's face it, Mr. Kilgore's background is in the extractive industry, and he needs to show us he doesn't just see this as a pr problem and a cost of doing business.

I strongly support the watchdog groups and their independent testing and documentation, even if they go overboard with the rhetoric. I do think they hurt their case with the confrontational tactics, but TVA could have diffused them somewhat by embracing everyone's need for openness.

Think of how reassuring it would have been if Kilgore had told them he would make sure they had reasonable access to the lake and the TVA would transport them to take testing samples at reasonable times. Wouldn't you feel better about TVA's openness and honesty?

And frankly, I would feel better about TVA's commitment to all of us if they would announce that they will cease to accept coal from strip mines and mountaintop removal.

Watch Dogs

One of my points is that we don't need an outside group to come in and protect us. We have enough qualified people in the affected community to verify the information TVA is providing. I bet TVA would be glad to provide access and tranportation to a local citizen's group interested in double checking the results. I'll bet a deal could be made to bill TVA directly for analysis too.

WhitesCreek's picture
And my point is that we do...

Why turn down the free expertise? Having talked with them, I feel like they know which rock to look under and are willing to do it for us.

It's perfect for us, actually. They do all they hard work for nothing, get in Kilgore's face, and then eventually leave, making us look entirely reasonable and like good guys.

What's not to love?

developers

i dident see any big developers at the meeting.i think tva greesed them so they wouldent show up!

Bones You Lost Me...

I don't see the need to grease the developers. Development has pretty much come to a standstill with the economy in recession and an extraordinary over supply of housing. Besides we don't have any Thunder Thorntons or Mike Ross's running around Roane County that fit the "big developer" mold. TVA needs to be worried about class action lawsuits from property owners within a reasonable proximity of the plant...thats what is coming down the pike.

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