March 3, 2009 4 PM
Dear folks and TVA employees,
TVA Office of Inspector General consider this as an official complaint and file it as such.
The Tennessee Valley Authority Police detained Matt Landon and Tom Swinford of United Mountain Defense after the two UMD volunteers deployed the first air quality monitor on private property around TVA's coal ash disaster in Harriman, TN. United Mountain Defense was on site with the residents at this time. Swinford and Landon legally mounted the air monitor on a power pole located on private property. Tom Swinford is an electrical journeyman and supervised the work today to make sure everyone was safe while working near the electrical wires.
After being detained for nearly 2 hours the Police ordered the United Mountain Defense volunteers to remove the monitor delaying the start of the air monitoring program. Landon video taped the whole event until an officer confiscated his camera. At this point the police began searching Landon's pockets and person for weapons without reasonable or easily articulated cause.
After the first camera was confiscated Swinford turned on his video camera and kept the film rolling. At various times the TVA officers pulled Swinford to the side and stated that he would not be allowed into the area again. TVA seems to forget that all the roads that UMD travels on are public or private roads not owned by TVA. TVA forgets that UMD volunteers have relatives in the Swan Pond Community and have an open invitation to visit residents or their property near the disaster site at any time day or night and UMD WILL visit these people whenever we want to.
One TVA officer told Swinford that he was so embarrassed because he couldn't actually arrest Swinford for being on private property with permission of the land owner.
Unfortunately these officers are only following orders from Tom Kilgore and we hold him personally responsible for the delay of the community's independent air monitoring program. Today's actions show that TVA will use any means to keep independent sampling from occurring including violating private property owner’s rights and threatening volunteers with unjust arrest, search, and seizure. TVA is so invested in keeping the truth about the air quality from reaching the public that they would violate civil rights in order to keep the data a secret. TVA may have delayed the program for one day but they DID NOT stop it. United Mountain Defense will continue to travel anywhere that we want to and will gather lots of air samples with or without TVA's permission. Keep your eyes open for fresh YouTube videos as we crank up UMD's web presence.
In order for TVA to stop generating so much negative publicity by hassling United Mountain Defense volunteers we request that the TVA leadership make some decisions that will permeate the whole TVA organization informing all employees to begin completely cooperating with UMD volunteers. There isn't much that can help TVA's public image at this point but this small step would help TVA greatly because UMD will get ANY footage, samples, data, access, or anything else that we need or want in dealing with this disaster and it is in TVA's best interest to allow this access and monitoring to occur un inhibited.
Seriously, matt landon United Mountain Defense Volunteer Staff