I just read the eloquently written but very disappointing Huffington Post by Erin Brockovich. I'm afraid she indulges in exaggeration to the point of misinformation. I'm being swayed over to RandMart's view of her.
She incorrectly states that this corner of Roane County is "Off the Beaten Path". Well let's overlook the fact that there are four I40 interchanges within three miles of the site and the fact that one of the largest shopping centers in Tennessee is within 20 minutes, and let's look at just a few of her factual errors. Here's an excerpt:
The "after" picture is nothing but a sludge-filled lake, dead fish and miles and miles of contamination flowing out of control. And what cannot be captured by photographs is the human toll of this disaster. The child who wakes up nightly with nightmares; the woman whose cough is so severe she can hardly speak and has been diagnosed with acute asthma from the ash spill; the tri-athlete who can no longer train in his environs; the families scared to death to go outside for fear they breathe in the toxic ash in the air; people realizing that TVA's recommendation to boil their water before drinking it in the wake of the disaster was a false comfort and bottled water, at their own expense, is the only solution for drinking;
Where to start? Yes, we have a big danged mess in less than a mile square area of a 61 square mile lake...Less than 0.8% of the lake. The floating gray stuff is little bubbles of silicates...Glass if you will. It's ugly but is being vacuumed up by hordes of orange life-jacketed workers.
Our drinking water has been tested by a staggering number of laboratories and not one single problem has been found...Not One! In all but a couple of the hundreds of samplings of the lake itself taken below the confluence of the Emory and the Clinch the lake water meets drinking water standards even before it goes through the treatment plants. More obvious is the outright lie that anyone has to pay for their own drinking water. People were frightened into buying bottled water even when their water came from the water system located many miles upstream of the spill site. Even so, TVA has and still will pay for water to be delivered and will pay for testing for anyone who requests it.
The families who are scared to death are mostly scared to death by erroneous reports by some environmental groups who, though they mean well and are working their hearts out, reported that the dirt and dust from the heavy truck traffic was Coal Ash...It wasn't. People were frightened into hysteria, coughing, throwing up, and other reactions to near panic, when what they were reacting to did not even exist. it's the exact same stuff that lies out there on my gravel driveway that I paid good money to have hauled in and spread out...Crusher run quarry gravel. No Coal Ash is being hauled by any of those trucks. It is all quarry material used in rebuilding the road and the weirs needed to contain the ash in the Emory and the cove.
The claim that TVA said for everyone too boil their drinking water is simple not true. It has been repeated like a high school hallway rumor, and I would expect the spokes person for a high priced Washington law firm to get her facts correct rather than expose herself to a loss of credibility. Here's where that nonsense came from: In the aftermath of the spill, TVA equipment was immediately working to clear the portion of the road along TVA property. An excavator cut through the waterline serving homes along that stretch of road. It was temporarily patched and the "boil" recommendation was issued for those homes and those homes only, not because of ash contamination, but because that is the standard procedure for the situation anytime a waterline is breached.
The nightmares that these poor people are experiencing are most likely due to the hysteria that people like Brockovich are whipping up to serve their own purposes. I'm sure that on some level she means well, but she's not helping us fix this mess.
The Attorney that stood up and pointed out that Ms. Brockovich and her attorneys were violating ethics laws was exactly correct, according to my attorneys. Ms. Brockovich has a history of bailing out on folks when it appears that the punitive damages won't be highly lucrative so let's just watch and see what happens here, since there is nobody to punish y monetary damages. The people at fault are the members of the TVA board and they are specifically protected by an act of Congress.
Now look, TVA has messed up big time. By their actions and in-actions, Roane County has been greatly harmed, but screaming hysteria is not what we need. We need a rational examination of the true hazards and risks, and a systematic plan to reclaim what can be reclaimed, and make whole those who have directly and indirectly suffered. That includes a whole bunch of us, including me. But everything I've seen so far indicates to me that TVA is making a totally good faith effort and they are being honest. Not once has anyone I've talked to said, "I can't give you that information." They have said, "We don't know yet," and I understand and accept that answer.
I'm not happy with the situation, but the situation IS the situation. Let's look at the science and the engineering and the needs of our citizens, both in the immediate moment, and the future. What we need is clear and rational thinking, not the fear driven emotional reactions that articles like Ms. Brockovich's. Her motives must certainly be questioned and watched, just as closely as we must question and watch TVA.
I have many criticisms of TVA actions, both before and after the spill. i will never forgive the lax environmental efforts and the disregard for our safety and quality of life that led to our present situation... But I do think that TVA as a whole has and is working in good faith and doing the best they can to make us whole. It simply isn't going to happen overnight.
Roane County is a sick patient, gravely in need of a medical procedure. At this point in time we are being made as comfortable as possible while the doctors start our treatment. There will be a recovery period, just like in any operation, whether it involves a scalpel or 200 pieces of heavy equipment, and it is going to be longer than we want.
Our problem is that there is no anesthesia for us. We'll be awake through the whole operation. It's going to hurt, but I believe we'll be better off than we have been for fifty years, once we have recovered.
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