It’s Wednesday and we’re at Ladd Landing just outside the town of Kingston, Tenn., packing our boats for a trip upstream to ground zero of the 2008 spill that dumped over a billion gallons of coal-ash into the unwitting Emory River. We’ve packed up our camera equipment, sound gear and apprehension for the ride.
The murky fog soup blanketing the river burns off to reveal sparkling water and blue skies. It’s a beautiful day,” says Donna Lisenby, Upper Watauga River’s riverkeeper in North Carolina and the Emory River’s honorary riverkeeper seeing as it has none of its own.
“A beautiful day to do disaster investigation,” Christoph Schwaiger clarifies wryly, camera in hand.