America’s worst industrial accident: in pictures 

The following photos of coal ash in Tennessee are © J Henry Fair, Flight provided by Southwings:

The following photos of the Kingston spill were taken by Dot Griffith.

After the catastrophic failure of a TVA coal ash pond dam in Kingston, TN a 40 foot tidal wave of coal ash surged across the the Swan Pond embayment of the Emory River and drowned the surrounding community at 1:00 am on Monday December 22, 2008.
Long white and gray plumes of floating coal ash contaminated the Emory, Clinch and Tennessee Rivers for moret than 20 miles downstream of the spill.
Decades of accumulated coal waste towered over the Emory River. It was held back by a dam more than 60 feet tall. When it failed, half the contents of the ash pond poured into the Emory River and the surrounding community leaving behind a giant black crater.
Swimming holes turned into a toxic dump overnight. Prior to the spill families swam and fished here. After the dam broke, the river was coated with coal ash sludge and ash bergs. Fish were killed and swiming in coal ash containing heavy metals like arsenic, boron, chromium, lead, manganese and selenium was out of the question.
Floating coal ash contaminated with a toxic stew of heavy metals was pushed by the wind and current into coves and onto shorelines of many property owners.
Red Christmas wreaths on the house and lamp posts were the silent witnesses as the rumbling and roaring tidal wave of ash surrounded this house and coated the front porch.
The once idyllic views of blue water from these lake front homes became views of a black waste pit.

Read the full story of how the rivers of Kingston turned black at MATTER.

For more photos by J Henry Fair, visit




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