Our firm continues to work on behalf of those affected by the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee. As previously reported, we filed a class action suit on behalf of property owners damaged by the spill. The case is in its early stages, but a great deal of work has been done.
As previously reported, 5.4 million cubic yards (over 1 billion gallons) of coal ash were released when the TVA slurry pond failed. The pond failure flooded over 300 acres with toxic sludge that is nine feet deep in some areas. Interestingly, just two months prior to the disaster, the slurry pond passed inspection. On October 20, 2008, inspectors deemed the Kingston Fossil Plant’s fly ash pond structurally sound. However, the inspectors didn’t have enough time to complete their report before the pond collapsed.
In a report completed after the disaster, the engineers stated that the pond was in overall good condition even though the pond walls seeped water and were scarred by erosion in some places. Findings in prior annual reports show a long line of leaks, erosion, seepages and waterlogged walls.
As the TVA disaster has brought attention to the by-products of burning coal, one report asserts that nearly 100 coal ash dumps across the United States pose similar or even greater potential dangers than the TVA Kingston plant. This largely unregulated practice of storing coal ash in slurry ponds routinely poses substantial risks to waterways, soil, and wildlife, and even endangers human life. The Environmental Integrity Project recently compiled industry data that shows over 124 million pounds of coal ash were disposed between 2000 and 2006.
TVA’s coal-fired electric plant in Kingston deposited more than 2.2 million pounds of toxic materials into its holding pond in a single year. The Kingston site has been named to a list of the top 50 worst toxic chemical sites. The EIP report also found that 13 states have at least three coal ash dumps on the 50 worst toxic chemical lists. Indiana tops the list with 11 sites, followed by Ohio with eight. Kentucky and Alabama each have seven sites. Georgia and North Carolina have six each. West Virginia and Tennessee have four. Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wyoming each have three sites.
The toxins found in coal ash include arsenic, lead, chromium, manganese, and barium. According to news reports, potential health problems associated with these toxic substances include cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems. In a recent public meeting with Kingston residents, health officials warned that the dust associated with the spill will pose an increasing challenge as the slurry dries and spring winds arrive. In addition to layers of dust covering property, the fine particulate matter also is linked to respiratory illness. Already, there are reports of residents complaining of increased illness. A recent survey by the Tennessee Department of Health found that one third of residents living near the spill reported breathing problems and one half reported increased stress and anxiety.
Environmental regulators have approved TVA’s initial plan to dredge the Emory River channel. For the last two months, workers have been stabilizing the ash and working on a plan to clean up the coal ash from surrounding property. Nearly three months after the spill, TVA received approval for the initial phase of its clean up plan. The cleanup is so massive that it will take years to complete. TVA estimates the cost could be between $525 million and $825 million. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation ordered total remediation so TVA must clean up the site completely. Our firm continues to work on behalf of Kingston residents. If you need additional information on the lawsuits filed or anything else relating to this matter, contact Rhon Jones (Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com) or David Byrne (David.Byrne@beasleyallen.com) in our firm at 800-898-2034.
Source: Associated Press
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