Sorry to post some bad news on Christmas but this is devistating! Environmental Spill Disaster Devastates Tennessee!

Not sure why I haven’t received this info sooner but I just received it by email. I hope to have so photos of this soon, I’m going to make a trip to the disaster this week!

Environmental Spill Disaster Devastates Tennessee; 48 Times the Size of Exxon Valdez

By Matthew McDermott, TreeHugger. Posted December 25, 2008.

An environmental disaster of epic proportions has occurred in Tennessee. Monday night, 2.6 million cubic yards (the equivalent of 525.2 million gallons, 48 times more than the Exxon Valdez spill by volume) of coal ash sludge broke through a dike of a 40-acre holding pond at TVA’s Kingston coal-fired power plant covering 400 acres up to six feet deep, damaging 12 homes and wrecking a train.

According to the EPA the cleanup will take at least several weeks, but could take years. Officials also said that the magnitude of this spill is such that the entire area could be declared a federal superfund site.

Toxic Sludge Got Into Tributary of Chattanooga Water Supply

Apart from the immediate physical damage, the issue is what toxic substances are in that sludge: Mercury, arsenic, lead, beryllium, cadmium. Though officials said the amounts of these poisons in the sludge could not be determined on Monday, they could (at the mild end) irritate skin or trigger allergies or (longer term) cause cancer or neurological problems.

This toxic sludge got into the Emory River, a tributary of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers: The water supply for Chattanooga, Tennessee as well as millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. TVA says that as yet the spill (which they are characterizing as a mudslide or landslide, but frankly it’s still toxic…) has not affected the water quality in the Emory River.

High Levels of Rain, Thaw Freeze Cycles May Have Weakened Pond Walls

On why the spill happened, the Tennessean speculated,

The area received almost 5 inches of rain this month, compared with the usual 2.8 inches. Freeze and thaw cycles may have undermined the sides of the pond. The last formal report on the condition of the 40-acre pond — an unlined, earthen structure — was issued in January and was unavailable Monday, officials said.

Greenpeace Calls for Criminal Investigation

In a press release issued yesterday, noting that spills of similar substances have resulted in felony charges, Greenpeace called for a criminal investigation into the spill:

“Every facility like this is supposed to have a spill contingency plan to prevent this kind of disaster,” said Rick Hind, Greenpeace Legislative Director. “The authorities need to get to the bottom of what went wrong and hold the responsible parties accountable.”

TVA Releases Official Statement

In an official statement, TVA president and CEO Tom Kilgore said,

Protecting the public, our employees, and the environment is TVA’s primary concern as we supply electric power for the people of Tennessee Valley region. We deeply regret that a retention wall for ash containment at our Kingston Fossil Plant failed, resulting in an ash slide and damage to nearby homes.We are grateful no injuries have been reported, and we will take all appropriate actions to assist those affected by this situation.

We appreciate the continuing efforts of local and state agencies, as well as TVA employees, to respond to this situation quickly and efficiently. Our intense effort to respond effectively will continue 24/7 for the foreseeable future with the safety of the public our top priority.

Clean Coal, Yeah Right

As many people in the blog world are noting, it’s this sort of thing that really makes the proposition of clean coal so absurd. Even if you can scrub all the CO2 out of it, you still have so many other toxic waste products associated with burning coal that have to be stored that carbon emissions are just a part of the problem. How many other holding ponds are out there waiting to burst?

The light at the end of the tunnel! Whew, I’m almost finished!!!

Wow! What a two-month circus I’ve had! I’ve hardly had time to post anything, anywhere. I did have a chance to modify my website,, due to requests from two of my big environmental stock clients. Stop by for a visit if you get a chance and let me know what you think. Other than that, I’ve consulted on a beautiful Oklahoma book and served as a print broker for it. Also, I designed, performed all the prepress work and I am the print broker on a book project for a great photographer and good friend, Thomas Blagden. I hope to be working with Tom in the near future on more projects for my publishing company, Mountain Trail Press. We are now in the final stages of the printing process on both projects with F&G’s on the way for final approval and then waiting for the books to make their way over the “Big Pond” to my customers. The great thing is that I can now get back to the normal routine. I hope to be posting more regularly and more than just political deliberations.

Anyway, thanks for being patient with me while I’ve been away. I’ll be posting something new tomorrow.

Woodall Shoals Reflection #2, Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River, GA & SC

Here’s another Woodall Shoals reflection image from my GA/SC trip last week. I decided to crop in a little more on this scene, concentrating on the perfect reflection.

Also, just a note, I processed this photo using the new CaptureOne 4.1 and also my new “docked” Dell Precision M4300 mobile workstation. Man, this thing is FAST! I’ll post the build info later in this post.

Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 24mm w/ fall and tilt, polarizer

Rhododendron season in the Highlands is near!

Wow, it’s really hard to believe that in two weeks the highcountry will be adorned with the beautiful Catawba rhododendron bloom. It feels like it was just last week that the forest was just starting to come alive from the long winter season. This is a great time to be in the mountains, especially the Roan Highlands, along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. I have my Roan Highlands Experience workshop the 13th through 15th of June and we have spots open! If you’ve never been to the Roan during the bloom, it’s incredible! This place is in my backyard and I’d love to show all how wonderful this place is. It’s hard to believe that not too many years ago the plans were to develop the bald. Just think, condos, ski slopes, million dollar home sites and paved roads running over this beautiful landscape. Thanks to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy for protecting this wonder for generations to come! By the way, they are the group that has brokered the deal between the Conservation Fund and the owners of Rocky Fork. I’ll be indebted to them forever! Stop by and tell them thanks at  


Please visit for more info on our upcoming workshop schedule.


Catawba Rhododendron and breaking storm along Jane Bald, Roan Highlands, Tennessee and North Carolina


Canon EOS 5D,  TS-E 24mm, no filters

RAW file processed with CaptureOne Pro and Photoshop CS3 Extended

Rocky Fork Hike for Sierra Club members & Non-members!


I’m leading a hike into the Rocky Fork tract for the Sierra Club on Saturday the 24th, members and non-members are welcome! Here’s the info for the outing.

Meeting place: Erwin McDonalds – I will park in the overflow parking in the back! I drive a Silver 2005 Nissan Frontier NISMO Pickup with a camper top and platform on the back. We will meet there at 9:00am and depart by 9:15am.

Please bring water and snacks for the trip. Also, bring extra shoes for deep water crossings (Teva’s, Chaco’s, Keen’s,…). Oh, and bring your cameras!

If you have any questions please call at 423-335-8245

Jerry Greer

Buffalo Mountain Fire plus ATV trail on Buffalo!

Buffalo Mountain fire! It does look as though the fire was started along the trail. They are saying that it was set by a human, no word whether intentional or accident. The main trail is an ATV trail and I have my suspicions on how this was started if it did, indeed, start on or near the ATV trail. More than likely, a cigarette or exhaust from an ATV or motorcycle. I’ve always been torn between my feelings for ATV areas in our mountains. I grew up riding and racing motorcycles, on and off-road. But, I HAVE NEVER SEEN the type of destruction that the ATV’s are causing in our mountains! The problem is the very apparent disconnect between the operators and the environment they are riding in. They DO NOT lift a finger when it comes to maintaining the trail systems. This is the #1 thing that they could do to repair their image with the general public. Also, by showing a bit of responsibility they could, very well, be rewarded more places to ride. I just don’t understand the mentality of these riders. They need to wake up! Maybe a required class needs to be taken before they could ride in these areas. Someone needs to teach them how to ride and respect the privilege of riding these trails. They need to understand that riding on these trails is a privilege not a right!


Please note: I’m not blaming anyone or any group for the fire. I’ll leave that up to the officials that are investigating the fire. I’m making a comment about the destruction of the forest around the ATV trail. When I moved here, just over 12-years ago, only mountain bikes and motorcycles rode the multi-use trail on Buffalo and the trail was a single-track trail with very few problems. Now it is a highway! Huge mud-filled holes with multiple, illegal, trails running all over the place. Riders should police themselves! If they see someone riding illegally then they should handle it accordingly. If not, they should loose the rights to ride the trail, period!




The Photo workshops are back on!


I wanted to note that I’ll be leading and assisting in photo workshops again starting late spring. My business partner Ian Plant, great friend Richard Bernabe and I have started a new venture, Mountain Trail Photo Workshops. We are working with some of the most talented photographers/teachers in the industry. Stop by our website and check out our workshop schedule.