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By Nancy Robinson:
It’s a Thursday afternoon in mid-winter, and Dr. Mark Littmann is driving a University of Tennessee van packed with 10 of his students down a gravel road in the backwoods near Kingston, Tenn. In his khaki trench coat and glasses, Littmann looks more like a detective than a science journalism professor. Eager, focused, resolute.
Nothing is stopping this van — not the absent back seat, not the guide who’s gone missing-in-action, not the fluorescent “Do Not Enter” signs they pass, and definitely not any of the health risks said to be looming in the air.
No, Littmann, with his students bouncing in the seats behind him, is determined to get his “Writing about Science, Technology, and Medicine” class to the coal ash spill, Tennessee Valley Authority’s fresh and already famous catastrophe at the Kingston Fossil Plant 40 miles west of Knoxville.