Do your scientific homework

The column in a recent Mountain Xpress about Progress Energy's dust storage from coal-burning raises a number of interesting points [”When the Dust Settles,” Sept. 29] notes that scrubbers at the facility removed 93 percent of combustion products, so the issue evidently bears on the storage of some remaining residue, approximately seven percent. Were scrubbers in use at TVA before the lagoon burst?

In a scientific study, we might expect that more homework got done. Is there any seepage from the active lagoon and, if so, what's in the escaping leak? We are informed there is bad stuff in that dust, but what actually? Some stuff is mobile, other materials break down or oxidize. Dust falling on someone's windowsill or kids' playset is irritating, but might be said not to constitute a true sample.

While EPA bears the main burden, can't we call on our local university to have a look? Or county or city health people? Couldn't someone knowledgeable (SCS?) have a look at the retaining dam? If it was slapped together hurriedly, surely a fat grant can be generated to build a new one.

— Hollis Thomas

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