Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Archive for the ‘Kentucky’ Category

Mountaintop Removal: Satellite Images

Posted by feww on March 3, 2010

Dreaming of a Flat Earth!

Mountaintop removal is a major violation of nature with deadly consequences—Fire-Earth

“There has been a global, 30-year increase in surface mining, which is now the dominant driver of land-use change in the central Appalachian ecoregion of the United States. One major form of such mining, mountaintop mining with valley fills, is widespread throughout eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and southwestern Virginia. Upper elevation forests are cleared and stripped of topsoil, and explosives are used to break up rocks to access buried coal. Excess rock (mine ‘spoil’) is pushed into adjacent valleys, where it buries existing streams.” Mountaintop Mining Consequences, M. A. Palmer et al.

Growth of Mountaintop Removal, West Virginia, 1984-2009

Click images to enlarge

large image
(0.73 MB, JPEG)             acquired September 17, 1984

large image
(683 KB, JPEG)                            acquired June 2, 2009

ohio valley env coalition
Closeup: Mountaintop removal. Photo by Vivian Stockman; source: OVEC; flyover courtesy SouthWings. [Original caption: What does it say about human nature that we allow this kind of destruction to go on?]

The following is a recent feature article by NASA Earth Observatory :

Mountaintop Mining, West Virginia

Below the densely forested slopes of southern West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains is a layer cake of thin coal seams. To uncover this coal profitably, mining companies engineer large—sometimes very large—surface mines. This time-series of images of a surface mine in Boone County, West Virginia, illustrates why this controversial mining method is also called “mountaintop removal.”

Based on data from NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite, these natural-color (photo-like) images document the growth of the Hobet mine as it moves from ridge to ridge between 1984 to 2009. The natural landscape of the area is dark green, forested mountains, creased by streams and indented by hollows. The active mining areas appear off-white, while areas being reclaimed with vegetation appear light green. A pipeline roughly bisects the images from north to south. The town of Madison, lower right, lies along the banks of the Coal River.

In 1984, the mining operation is limited to a relatively small area west of the Coal River. The mine first expands along mountaintops to the southwest, tracing an oak-leaf-shaped outline around the hollows of Big Horse Creek and continuing in an unbroken line across the ridges to the southwest. Between 1991 and 1992, the mine moves north, and the impact of one of the most controversial aspects of mountaintop mining—rock and earth dams called valley fills—becomes evident.

The law requires coal operators to try to restore the land to its approximate original shape, but the rock debris generally can’t be securely piled as high or graded as steeply as the original mountaintop. There is always too much rock left over, and coal companies dispose of it by building valley fills in hollows, gullies, and streams. Between 1991 and 1992, this leveling and filling in of the topography becomes noticeable as the mine expands northward across a stream valley called Stanley Fork.

The most dramatic valley fill that appears in the series, however, is what appears to be the near-complete filling of Connelly Branch from its source to its mouth at the Mud River between 1996 and 2000. Since 2004, the mine has expanded from the Connelly Branch area to the mountaintops north of the Mud River. Significant changes are apparent to the ridges and valleys feeding into Berry Branch by 2009. Over the 25-year period, the disturbed area grew to more than 10,000 acres (15.6 square miles).

According to a report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly 40 percent of the year-round and seasonal streams in the Mud River watershed upstream of and including Connelly Branch had been filled or approved for filling through 1998. In 2009, the EPA intervened in the approval of a permit to further expand the Hobet mine into the Berry Branch area and worked with mine operators to minimize the disturbance and to reduce the number and size of valley fills.

Still, some scientists argue that current regulations and mitigation strategies are inadequate. After doing a survey of research on mountaintop mining and valley fills, the scientists concluded that the impacts on stream and groundwater quality, biodiversity, and forest productivity were “pervasive and irreversible” and that current strategies for mitigation and restoration were not compensating for the degradation.

Links related to article and references

Related Links:

Posted in coal energy, Kentucky, surface mining, valley fills, West Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas and Oklahoma on Fire

Posted by feww on April 11, 2009

Wildfires and tornadoes fueled by strong winds cause widespread destruction in the southern US.

A fraternal lodge in Mena, Ark., was in ruins yesterday after a tornado struck the town late Thursday. Storms also hit Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston via Boston Globe). Image may be subject to copyright.

A summary of events:

  • About a dozen people have been killed in Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas, with about 200 hundred others injured, a half of them seriously.
  • Several thousand people have been evacuated across the three states.
  • The storms destroyed or damaged nearly 200 homes and businesses in Arkansas, spanning over 12 counties.
  • Wildfires destroyed more than 180 homes in Oklahoma, injuring about 70 people and prompting the Oklahoma governor Brad Henry to declare a state of emergency in 32 counties.
  • A storm system moving across the area has caused power cuts, damage and widespread destruction throughout the southern and mid-western US.
  • Wildfires have scorched up to 100,ooo hectares of land. [About 95 percent of Texas is currently in some stage of drought. ]
  • On Thursday, wind speed reached a category 1 hurricane with peak speeds of about 120km/hr (74mph).
  • Texas wildfire burned down dozens of homes prompting  evacuation of several towns.
  • One of the fires in Oklahoma may have been started deliberately, officials said.

Flames illuminate a storage tank as a grass fire moves through Choctaw, Okla., Thursday, April 9, 2009. Fire crews in Oklahoma and Texas raced Thursday to control wind-whipped wildfires that destroyed dozens of homes, forced evacuations and shut down parts of a major highway. Photo: Sue Ogrocki /AP. Image may be subject to copyright.

These scenes are forecast to reoccur across the country throughout 2009.

Posted in Alabama storm, cat 1, Kentucky, tornadoes, wildfires | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ice and Snow, Here, There, Everywhere!

Posted by feww on January 28, 2009

Ice and Snow Have Covered a Vast Area of the United States, from the Plains to the East Coast

A powerful storm spread ice and snow from the southern Plains to the East Coast of the United States. It blocked road, closed schools and government offices, cut power and killed at least 13 people in weather-related incidents since the storm began on Monday.

A disabled auto sits stranded along I-71 near Glencoe, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009. Gov. Steve Beshear declared a statewide emergency as a powerful winter storm barrels through Kentucky. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke). Image may be subject to copyright. (Source).

At least ¼ of a million customers were left without power throughout Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and southeastern Missouri.

Up to a thousand schools, colleges and universities called off classes Tuesday in hard-hit areas of  Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana,  Kentucky,  Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and W.Virginia.

Enhanced Radar Image – Base Reflectivity. Image updated at intervals.  Source: National Weather Service

About 15 inches of snow was forecast in New Hampshire, as the storm threatened to spread the spell into New England, prompting the New Hampshire Legislature to cancel Wednesday’s sessions.

Snow and Fog in Pacific Northwest

The top image is a natural-color view that covers parts of British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. This photo-like view is made from MODIS’ observations of visible light. NASA EO Image: Acquired January 18, 2009

The false-color version of the scene  reveals that not all the white is snow, however. This picture is made from a combination of red light and shortwave infrared light, which our eyes cannot see. Snow and ice are red, while clouds and fog are white or pale peach. Liquid water on the ground is dark red, nearly black, and vegetation is green. NASA EO Image: Acquired January 18, 2009.

Read more about these image here.

Posted in East Coast, Enhanced Radar Image, Kentucky, power outage, southern Plains | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

TVA Spill Update

Posted by feww on December 25, 2008

500 Million 1.1 Billion Gallons of Coal Sludge Destroys Tennessee Homes

TVA spill is over 40 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska

Sent by Bonnie Swinford [Mountain Justice]

The Tennessee Valley Authority, better known as TVA, has a coal-burning power plant located near Harriman, Tennessee, along Interstate 40 between Knoxville and Nashville. On Monday, December 22 around 1:00 a.m. residences living near the Kingston coal plant were flooded with approximately 500 million gallons of nasty black coal waste. It covered 400 acres of land up to 6 feet and flooded into tributaries of the Tennessee River – the water supply for Chattanooga TN and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

One of the homes which was destroyed when TVA  retention pond wall collapsed in Harriman, Tenn. Photo: AP. Image may be subject to copyright.

The coal ash, slurry or sludge is a byproduct left over after TVA burns their coal and they have a huge mountain of this coal waste material stored in a gigantic pile next to their Kingston power plant, alongside the tributary of the Tennessee River. Coal ash contains mercury and dangerous heavy metals like lead and arsenic, among many other potentially toxic and radioactive contaminates. Materials found naturally in coal are concentrated in the ash and more toxic than they start.

This Tennessee TVA spill is over 40 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. This is a huge environmental disaster of epic proportions.

Orthographic aerial photograph of Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill, in Kingston, Tennessee, taken the day after the event).

Note: The slate blue areas are the ash slurry that fills the retention area and covers areas to the north and east outside the breached dike.
Source:   Tennessee Valley Authority website
Date:    December 23, 2008

United Mountain Defense has been at the site of the spill sharing information about the extremely serious threats to human health and the environment. We have been going door to door passing out information about the chemicals that may be present in impacted drinking water. TVA is advising families to boil water however they are not informing anyone about the reasons for needing to boil the water or sharing any chemicals that may be present in their water.

TVA Sludge Disaster
Two more of the homes that are buried in 6 feet of sludge. Source: TVA/NYT

TVA Sludge Disaster Close-up
Image close up. See above for details.

TVA has reported that preliminary water test show that the drinking water at the nearby water treatment facility meets standards, but lots of community members have well water or depend on water being pumped from a spring located in the flooded area.

There is also still the potential for more sludge to enter the water supply thorough waste runoff.

TVA says the area is not toxic but you can see coal sludge in the water and dead fish on the banks. The members of this community are without clean water and many without electricity or gas heat. We met people who were given motel rooms by TVA and others on the same street that have been without heat for days in 27° (F) weather and others who have been vomiting for more than 12 hours after drinking the water.

Aerial Footage of Retaining Wall Failure (Footage from TVA website)

We visited approximately 40 households and many people were frustrated they had not received any information other than what they could figure out from the minute long television segments or an isolated phone call from the water or gas utility. Residents say that they are not surprised by the flood because TVA has been fixing leaks in the retention wall for years and one person said this wall had been leaking for months before it broke.

TVA Coal Ash Disaster Dec 22 2008

United Mountain Defense is actively creating a plan of action to deal with this issue. We plan to spend as much time as possible in Harriman meeting people, taking photos and video, gathering water samples, passing out information and reporting what we learn.
Please check our news blog on this site for updates and to learn more about our TVA Santa Protests that occurred throughout December.

Check out the Santa Protest Videos

We greatly appreciate all support and suggestion for dealing with this massive disaster can be sent to

If you are able to test water samples for heavy metals or other specialized water testing please let us know.

We will not stand by as safety and environmental compliance taken a back seat to megawatt production.

Feel free to send checks for copies, paper, gas and general support funds to United Mountain Defense P.O. Box 20363 Knoxville, TN 37920 Please mark check: “For TVA Spill

We demand the following from TVA

  1. TVA provides clean drinking water to all residents with water affected by the coal ash spill, indefinitely.
  2. TVA and the State of Tennessee hold multiple public hearings and investigate the bursting coal ash dam.
  3. TVA and the State of Tennessee identifies the locations of all the coal ash, what toxins exist in the coal ash, and how it will be cleaned up and safely disposed of in landfills with liners.
  4. TVA provides public disclosure of all existing coal ash ponds and makes sure each pond receives a current inspection by the state of Tennessee. TVA upgrades all coal ash ponds to include safety liners.
  5. TVA installs a warning system and provides education for all residents likely to be impacted by any problems with other ash ponds.
  6. TVA completely cleans up and restores the affected properties and water ways.
  7. TVA pays restitution for human suffering involved in the ash pond failure.
  8. TVA establishes a citizen advisory board with voting power for all of its operations.
  9. TVA stops burning any coal from surface mines and Mountain Top Removal coal mines.
  10. TVA cuts their emissions of mercury, heavy metals, hydrochloric acid, and sulfuric acid to zero pounds per year.
  11. TVA agrees to not mine for coal in Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area.

Feel free to contact TVA and forward this list of demands. Make sure to be polite.

Tennessee Valley Authority
400 W. Summit Hill Dr.
Knoxville, TN 37902-1499

865-632-2101                         800-882-5263

Related Links:

Latest News: EPA: Rivers high in arsenic, heavy metals after sludge spill

Other News: Still buried in SLUDGE

NASA Images: Coal Ash Spill, Tennessee


Posted in Alabama, Kentucky, Mountain Justice, Tennessee | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »