It’s official, TVA is trying to kill us.
The Ocoee River is famous for its white water and hosted parts of the 1996 Olympics. This spill wasn’t coal sludge related — it’s actually sediment built up at the bottom of a regular river dam over the years that was accidentally released during dam repair, causing black muck to be released and a fish kill.
It should be noted that the sediment seems to contain toxins related to the years of nearby copper mining and acid mine drainage river. To be fair (which TVA doesn’t deserve), this sort of environmental problem happens fairly often (and is still horrible every time) and wouldn’t be national news if it wasn’t the latest development in TVA’s apparent attempt to assassinate the entire southeast. Read the article after the jump.
Efforts to repair one of a series of dams on the river released sediment into the rocky channel over the weekend, agency spokeswoman Barbara Martocci confirmed Thursday. The U.S. Forest Service discovered the problem Sunday.
Two days later, a section of the Ocoee River Gorge — a world-renowned location for whitewater sports and site of Olympic competition during the 1996 Atlanta games — was about half-filled with black, foul-smelling muck, said Tisha Calabrese-Benton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environment and Conservation.
“In addition, Forest Service employees were walking the stream bank picking up what dead fish they could find,” she said Thursday in an e-mail. “No live fish were seen.”
…Calabrese-Benton said the sediment had built up behind the dam over decades after flowing down from the Copper Basin, an area in the southeast corner of Tennessee where mining and pollution wiped out vegetation generations ago.
An extensive effort has taken place over many years to clean the site and the Ocoee River.
The spill killed fish and washed them downstream or killed and buried them, so a count of the numbers dead was not possible, Calabrese-Benton said.
The fish population, largely absent for 100 years, had been starting to flourish in this part of the Ocoee, according to a U.S. Forest Service survey this past summer.
Bill Mitchum of the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association said:
“It’s inexcusable. If that had happened during the summer when the river was full of people that could have been a real disaster.”