Study claims connection to coal ash and cancer

By: Stephen McLamb Email
By: Stephen McLamb Email

KINGSTON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- One in 50 people living near unlined ash ponds, like the one that breached in Kingston, have an increased risk for cancer.

That's part of new information contained in an EPA study released by a federal watchdog group.

The report, according to the watchdog group, was allegedly withheld by the Bush Administration.

The report released today from Environmental Justice and the Environmental Integrity Project say people who live near unlined ash pond plants like the one in Kingston face the greatest risk.

They base that risk on contamination to both drinking well water and even recreational use of the river.

But not all residents are buying into it.

A report out today by the watchdog group, Environmental Justice and the Environmental Integrity Project say people who live near coal powered plants with unlined ash ponds face a greater risk of cancer.

"EPA is estimating risks of up to one in fifty excess cancers due to arsenic leaking into drinking water wells," says Eric Schaeffer, Director of Environmental Integrity Project.

But it's not just drinking water wells the report claims people to be at risk.

The study also claims water leached from ash ponds that reaches surface water is also a hazard.

"The problem there will come from either recreational exposure or from eating contaminated fish," says Schaeffer.

But some in Kingston say one of their concerns is information that comes from watchdog groups.

"They doubt everything the government says. I'd have to see scientific data," says Kingston resident Ken Davis.

Vivian Manis who lives on the river near the plant says, "When you have a catastrophe, you know you'll have a group that will if they can, get some money."

Both Davis and Manis both say they've lived in the area for years and have a hard time believing there's a connection.

"I don't know, but I'm not concerned with it because we've been happy to be here," says Manis.

"I don't have any indication to make me believe that. You know, I've had friends around here and I don't know any of them that have had cancer or died from cancer," says Davis.

But on the other side of the fence, Floyd Walker has skin cancer. He covers up and doesn't go in the water.

"Mercury or whatever. There's always the possibility the water could be contaminated," says Walker.

In a statement just released by TVA the utility says EPA has sought public comment on it's draft and has received significant comments.

But they also say EPA has not issued it's final assessment and TVA looks forward to that final assessment.


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