For years, independent investigative journalist Rhiannon Fionn traveled the country collecting stories about coal ash, America’s second-largest stockpile of trash. What she discovered is that it’s likely making people sick, it is damaging property, and the relationship between industry and government is far too close.
During her quest, the third-largest coal ash spill in the nation’s history occurred on her home turf, in North Carolina, and a federal investigation was launched into the dealings between the state and Duke Energy, the nation’s largest energy producer. Additionally, hundreds of citizens in that state were warned not to drink their well water and have been forced to subsist on bottled water ever since, though there are other communities – like the Town of Pines, Indiana – where citizens have been living off bottled water for more than 15 years because of coal ash contamination.
In Coal Ash Chronicles, Rhiannon connects the dots for viewers on this major issue, interviewing citizens, activists, and government and industry leaders involved with similar coal ash crises around the country. What she’s learned is that coal ash is America’s number-one water polluter, and that there are viable solutions to this massive problem. Even as coal companies begin to clean up their mess, the question remains: Will government remember who it’s supposed to be fighting for?
Issues surrounding coal ash disposal are deep-rooted, geographically pervasive, and ongoing. Coal Ash Chronicles seeks to document real human hardship on all sides of this issue, addressing a multitude of perspectives and documenting real-time changes in the story, all while expressing the humanity of people affected.
Rhiannon is also working on a non-fiction book on the topic.