Environmental Impacts of the Coal Ash Spill in Kingston, Tennessee: An 18-Month Survey

Loading...
Thumbnail Image

Date

2010

Authors

Ruhl
L
Vengosh, A
Dwyer
G, S
Hsu-Kim
H
Deonarine

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats

2193
views
2144
downloads

Citation Stats

Abstract

An 18 month investigation of the environmental impacts of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee combined with leaching experiments on the spilled TVA coal ash have revealed that leachable coal ash contaminants (LCACs), particularly arsenic, selenium, boron, strontium, and barium, have different effects on the quality of impacted environments. While LCACs levels in the downstream river water are relatively low and below the EPA drinking water and ecological thresholds, elevated levels were found in surface water with restricted water exchange and in pore water extracted from the river sediments downstream from the spill. The high concentration of arsenic (up to 2000 mu g/L) is associated with some degree of anoxic conditions and predominance of the reduced arsenic species (arsenite) in the pore waters. Laboratory leaching simulations show that the pH and ash/water ratio control the LCACs' abundance and geochemical composition of the impacted water. These results have important implications for the prediction of the fate and migration of LCACs in the environment, particularly for the storage of coal combustion residues (CCRs) in holding ponds and landfills, and any potential CCRs effluents leakage into lakes, rivers, and other aquatic systems.

Department

Description

Provenance

Citation

Ruhl,Laura;Vengosh,Avner;Dwyer,Gary S.;Hsu-Kim,Heileen;Deonarine,Amrika. 2010. Environmental Impacts of the Coal Ash Spill in Kingston, Tennessee: An 18-Month Survey. Environmental science & technology 44(24): 9272-9278.

Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1021/es1026739

Scholars@Duke

Vengosh

Avner Vengosh

Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Environmental Quality

Avner Vengosh is a Distinguished Professor and Nicholas Chair of Environmental Quality at the Nicholas School of the Environment. He is the chair of the Division of  Earth and Climate Sciences. Professor Vengosh and his team have studied the energy-water nexus, conducting pioneer research on the impact of hydraulic fracturing and coal ash disposal on the quantity and quality of water resources in the U.S. and China. He has also investigated the sources and mechanisms of water contamination in numerous countries across the globe, including salinity and radioactivity in the Middle East, uranium in India, fluoride in Eastern Africa, arsenic in Vietnam, and hexavalent chromium in North Carolina and China. As part of these studies, his team has developed novel geochemical and isotopic tracers that are used as fingerprints to delineate the sources of water contamination and evaluate potential risks for human health. Currently, his team is engaged in studying phosphate rocks geochemistry and the impact of fertilizers on soil and water quality, unconventional sources of critical raw materials, and potential environmental effects of lithium mining from hard rocks and brines. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA) and International Association of Geochemistry (IAGC). In 2019, 2020 and 2021 he was recognized as one of the Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers. He serves as an Editor of GeoHealth and on the editorial board of the journal Environmental Science and Technology. He has published 171 scientific papers in leading international journals. His recent cross-disciplinary book “Water Quality Impacts of the Energy-Water Nexus” (Cambridge University Press, 2020) provides an integrated assessment of the different scientific and policy tools around the energy-water nexus. It focuses on how water use, and wastewater and waste solids produced from fossil fuel energy production affect water quality and quantity. Summarizing cutting edge research, the book describes the scientific methods for detecting contamination sources in the context of policy and regulations.

Hsu-Kim

Heileen Hsu-Kim

Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor Heileen (Helen) Hsu-Kim is an environmental engineer who specializes in environmental aquatic chemistry and geochemistry. Her research tackles problems related to pollutant metals and the biogeochemical processes that alter their distribution in water, soil, and air. The applications of this work include environmental remediation technologies, the impacts of energy production on water resources, global environmental health, and the environmental implications and applications of nanotechnology.

Dr. Hsu-Kim's current research projects are focused on mercury biogeochemistry, the impacts of coal ash disposal on water quality, recovering valuable materials from geological wastes, and health impacts of trace metal/metalloid exposures. A central theme to her work is the utilization of chemical speciation for understanding and predicting the persistence, mobility and bioavailability of metals and minerals in the aquatic environment.

The methodologies her group employs for this research include laboratory techniques for quantifying trace element speciation, functional measures of reactivity and bioavailability of contaminant metals, and techniques to probe interactions at mineral, water and microbial interfaces.


Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.