Program Note: Tune in to AC360º tonight at 10 P.M. ET to hear more from Erin Brockovich as she teams up with Dr. Sanjay Gupta to investigate a toxic oil spill endangering the health of the environment and the citizens of Kingston, Tennessee.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/08/tennessee.sludge/art.house.wvlt.jpg" caption="Properties near ground zero of the December 22 Tennessee spill are covered in sludge. "]
The Brockovich Report
It looks like I may be paying a visit to Tennessee. Numerous residents have asked me to come to the community for a meeting on the coal fly ash disaster around Knoxville, and I think I will be going.
I know the question on everyone's lips. What is coal fly ash, and why does it need to be contained? The folks around Knoxville are getting to know a lot more about coal fly ash than they ever wanted to learn.
Coal fly ash. It sounds like someone has been burning fly poop or airborne coal. But seriously, it is akin to the creosote that coated those chimneys and chimneysweep boys of Charles Dickens ancient London.
Fly ash comes from chimneys, specifically the chimneys of power plants. The collection point determines exactly what kind of ash it is. Fly ash apparently contains silicon dioxide and calcium oxide as well as trace concentrations of heavy metals. In other words, coal ash is nasty stuff to have floating around in your river, air, and drinking water.
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