Journalism group calls on EPA to quit slow-walking release of facts in TN spill

The Society of Environmental Journalists is urging the Environmental Protection Agency be more transparent and release all its data regarding the TVA coal sludge disaster in Roane County, Tennessee.

Of concern, notes James Brugger, a board member of the journalism group and a reporter at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., is that it took EPA 11 days to release its first findings -- 11 days.

SEJ wrote a letter to EPA administrators last week that says:

We encourage EPA to make public all its environmental sampling as soon as it is available. We request that the agency post those results on the EPA website in a form that allows the media and the public to easily determine what was sampled, where it was sampled, when it was sampled and how the sampling results compare to the relevant established environmental standards. There is even greater urgency for complete and immediate transparency given the results of private testing analyzed by an Appalachian State University lab that found alarmingly high arsenic levels.

In addition, we understand that some of the environmental monitoring has been conducted by TVA or the state of Tennessee. We encourage EPA, as the nation's top environmental regulator, to require TVA, and other entities conducting environmental monitoring, to make the results of all of their testing available to the media and the public in an equally comprehensive manner.