Compounding the catastrophe with more irresponsible behavior:
The TVA paid for as many as 900 people to contain and remove the pollution, some working 12-hour shifts for months at a time. The sludge dried into a fine dust that sparkled like glitter and sometimes whirled into clouds so thick, drivers could barely see past the hoods of their trucks.
In Associated Press interviews, workers said they were healthy before breathing the ash, but have since suffered unusual symptoms. They recalled joking darkly about "coal ash flu" before suffering strange lesions and seeing their skin flake off like fish scales. At least 40 co-workers have died, they said, some gruesomely, collapsing and coughing up blood. "We cleaned it up in a little over five years, and it would've took 25 years to do it the right way," said Doug Bledsoe, who drove trucks there and now has brain and lung cancer.
Let's say it again for those in the back rows: "Heavy metals persist." Mercury, Arsenic, Lead, are all heavy metals that survive the coal-burning process, often in the form of fly-ash, which is such a fine particulate that it remains airborne longer than other residuals, and more easily penetrates the soft tissues (and even bloodstream). That fly-ash also contains radioactive isotopes, which are probably responsible for many of the cancers. It's not just nasty, it's deadly, and the civil court system in Tennessee is allowing even more of these folks to die because of the "phases" they have to go through to get relief: