It might fall in “forgotten” or “never heard of it” news, unless you live in the area effected, of course. But this story, via Nation of Change, is another indication of how “environmental issues” are now treated. Once upon a time they were something the political parties considered worthy of attention (pro or con). Just as at an earlier point, the related arguments for “clean coal” weren’t an accepted good energy “alternative,” though now they are, on a bipartisan basis, including by the Obama administration.

Here’s a video to remind you of what happened:

From the Nation of Change article:

Four years after a coal processing plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) accidentally released tons of toxic coal ash into waterways in Kingston, the cleanup has finally come to an end.

But just because cleanup efforts have ceased, that does not mean that the pollution problem is gone.

In fact, quite the opposite is true. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a deal with the TVA to allow the company to stop their cleanup efforts and allow “˜natural river processes’ to dispose of the remaining toxic sludge.

Reports say that as much as 500,000 cubic yards of coal ash sludge remain in the Kingston River … . As the EPA puts it, dredging up the remaining coal ash would actually release even more pollutants into the water “” including contaminants left over from previous industrial accidents and Department of Energy projects.

Kind of like covering up past mistakes with recent mistakes, and using the first to justify only partially dealing with the second. As Farron Cousins, who writes the piece, says, local residents lost the battle. With the help of the EPA, TVA just as clearly wins. Think about living with this toxic mess in your neighborhood, and learning that the agency charged with protecting your interests isn’t.

Had the EPA forced TVA to clean up the entire spill, the company would have paid nearly $180 million for the efforts. Instead, they get to “˜monitor’ the natural river processes for the next few decades, at an estimated cost of $10 million. That’s a savings for the TVA of more than 90%.

… Over the last few years, the EPA has been reluctant to issue any form of ruling on the toxicity of coal ash … .

It’s another “Oh, wait” moment, following a “Darn those Republicans” exclamation of disgust.

(TN Valley Authority Coal Ash Spill photo via TVA)