The economic triumph of the TVA efforts — the dams, its electric generation, the maritime locks – was accompanied by major environmental consequences, which are still being felt today. In recent years, greater economic activity was shown to be closely related to increased pollution of a Tennessee River.
Horrifying environmental catastrophes such as the one that occurred in 2008, when a billion tonnes of poisonous coal ash spilled into streams that drain into the Tennessee River, are all too often.
Even after more than a decade, the Tennessee Valley Authority continues to store coal ash in pits and ponds which leach heavy metals to ground water, which then flows into the Tennessee River.
Pollution From Plastic And Microplastics
Because of the large proportion of plastic pollution detected in its waters, Tennessee River has now been dubbed the “River of Plastic” by several top scientists.
Microplastics were plastic particles with a size of less than 5 millimetres in length and width. Wildlife may be harmed by ingesting pesticides because they can affect normal biological function and introduce harmful substances into food chain. Furthermore, microplastics have the potential to endanger regional water sources since they may travel through filtering systems without being blocked.
According to the findings of a research conducted by Dr. Andreas Fath, the Tennessee River contains around 18,000 microplastic particles every cubic metre of water. That’s one of the greatest microplastic levels ever observed in a river system setting anywhere on the planet, and it is a world record.
Studies on the impact of microplastic levels on oceanic wildlife have revealed that particles commonly accumulate with in gills & stomachs of fish, or that pollutants with in water could perhaps easily bind to a particles, generating what Knoll referred to as a “chemical bomb” that can be ingested by the fish.
Polypropylene was recognised as the most common plastic polymer detected in the samples by the prominent experts who conducted the studies. Polypropylene is most typically found in disposable plastic shopping bags, which are regularly and incorrectly disposed of by the general population, and wind up in Tennessee’s waterways, where they degrade and become microplastics as they break down.
The Chemicals From Industrial Applications
Additionally, the Tennessee River had suffered as a result of unethical commercial operations.
For more than a decade, the 3M Decatur Chemical factory in Alabama was directly leaking perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FBSA) or fluorinated sulfonamide alcoholic (FBSEE) into river waterways, according to reports in the state.
This is a clear violation of a Clean Water Act, as well as the permit issued by Environmental Protection Agency that authorised the corporation to begin producing the chemicals in the first place, and it should be prosecuted.
Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that it was permitted to go place by local officials. It seems that the Alabama Division of environment was made aware of the plant’s polluting actions but did nothing to halt them, putting the water supply of the surrounding community at risk of contamination.