Picking ecological disasters to research is like shooting deformed, mercury-laden fish in a barrel, but I settled on the following for their immediacy, large scope, and/or sheer atrocity.
Kingston Coal-Ash Spill, Tennessee
Last December 22, over one billion gallons of toxic slurry burst through a faulty retention wall of the Kingston Fossil Plant and sludged its way over 300 acres of rural land and into nearby tributaries of the Tennessee River.
As the largest fly ash spill in the history of the US, it might take months, or even years, to clean up the 6 feet deep gray goop. And while officials say that the elevated poisonous metal levels in the water and soil isn’t too dangerous, this does throw a bit of a wrench in the political support on clean coal.