Ecological Impacts of the TVA Coal Ash Spill in Kingston, TN: A Two Year Assessment

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Daniel Lee Jackson (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Shea Tuberty

Abstract: A two year investigation into the environmental impacts of a coal combustion waste spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston coal-fired power plant revealed several impacts. First, selenium concentrations were identified above criterion continuous concentration (CCC) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in total available water samples, and sediment samples were elevated up to 21 times background concentrations for arsenic following the spill. Second, fish body burdens for arsenic and selenium were statistically elevated in the months following the spill, particularly in redear sunfish. Third, body burdens were found to be statistically different between fish species for many elements, which can be attributed to diet and trophic level. Forth, concentrations of selenium in fish tissues were above proposed biological effects concentrations. Furthermore, fish were identified with pathological abnormalities such as exopthalmus, histopathological changes in the gills, reduced condition index, bacterial infections, and fin erosion. However, following an analysis of young bluegill sunfish demonstrating exopthalmus, no direct correlation could be made between these individuals and highly elevated contaminant concentrations. Fish populations are showing sustained elevation of toxic elements two years following the spill but are also likely benefitting from immigration/ emigration of individuals from healthy source populations.

Additional Information

Jackson, D.H. (2011). Ecological Impacts of the TVA Coal Ash Spill in Kingston, TN: A Two Year Assessment. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2011
Coal Combustion Waste, Tennessee Valley Authority, Contaminants, Toxicity, Exposure

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