EPA Lays Out TVA Fly Ash Spill Clean Up Options

Following the massive and environmentally catastrophic <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Tennessee_Fly_Ash_Spill">Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) fly ash spill that took place December 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has detailed options and costs for the utility to clean up the mess left in the spill’s wake, said the Associated Press (AP). The issue of coal ash regulation as a hazardous material has yet to be determined by the agency, the AP added.

While EPA headquarters spokeswoman Latisha Petteway referred questions to the EPA’s Atlanta district office, the EPA Atlanta region office spokeswoman, Davina Marraccini, referred questions back to EPA headquarters, the AP pointed out.

To date, noted the AP, the TVA has spent over $200 million in phase one clean-up efforts; future efforts are expected to cost another $741 million.

The spill let loose an unimaginable 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic coal sludge into the Emory and Clinch rivers and the 300 acres surrounding the plant. Of note, the spill dumped more heavy metals into the Emory River than all of the power plants in 2007, combined, said the Environmental Integrity Project previously.

Although the TVA claims it has been punished enough for last year’s massive and catastrophic fly ash spill, some environmental groups disagree and are seeking prosecution and asking that the utility no longer be protected by federal loopholes. KnoxNews said it is expected that courts will be jammed for years with lawsuits resulting from the historic and environmentally decimating spill.

To date, at least 14 lawsuits, some class actions, have been filed against the utility by residents and business owners who say they were harmed by the spill, said KnoxNews, noting that U.S. District Court Judge Tom Varlan is handling all of the cases. Millions of dollars in damages are being sought in the lawsuits, many of which are pending rulings.

All of the suits have claimed that the utility should have been aware that the ash pond in Kingston was faulty; an outside contractor noted in his analysis that an undetected level of sludge on the bottom of the ash was likely to blame, said KnoxNews. An inspector general with the TVA blamed the utility for handling problems around the spill that were more legal in nature and meant to ameliorate liability, added KnoxNews.

Numerous studies have concluded that coal dumps leach dangerous toxins into the environment that can cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health outcomes in water and wildlife, including frightening guarantees of developing cancer from drinking contaminated water and suffering damage to the liver, kidney, lungs and other organs from toxic metal exposure, such as cadmium, cobalt, lead, and other pollutants far above levels that are considered safe,” citing Environmental Integrity previously.

The Project’s earlier report found that the spill released about four and a-half times more lead and two and a-half times more arsenic than was released by the entire power industry the year prior to the spill, said KnoxNews. Environmental Integrity based its findings on industry-supplied data to the EPA, said KnoxNews.

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