A 40-acre pond used by the Tennessee Valley Authority to hold coal slurry that’s generated by a coal-fired power plant burst through its earthen dam last week, leaving 12 houses damaged and turning the surrounding rural land of Harriman, Tenn., located just 50 miles from Knoxville, into a dangerously drenched sludge pool. Read more in the Associated Press.

Update 12.30:
The EPA has released a report indicating that toxic substances have been found in the Emory River. The statement said,” Environmental data of the fly ash release so far indicates that several heavy metals are present in the water slightly above drinking water standards, but below concentrations the Agency knows to be harmful to humans.  The one exception may be arsenic.  One sample of river water out of many taken indicates concentrations that are very high and further investigations are in progress. Other than the arsenic concern in the river water, fly ash can be irritating to the skin and respiratory passages.”

Video from KnoxNews.com

UPDATE 12.30.08: New video footage of the spill

Update: 12.30.08: A video collage and explanation of the severity of the TVA spill by United Mountain Defense.

More from United Mountain Defense:

Ash Hole: a photo of the dam breach by John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper

Ash Hole: a photo of the dam breach by John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper