Judge Assigns Liability in Coal Ash Calamity
A “catastrophic” coal ash spill in Tennessee could have been prevented with better adherence to inspection and maintenance procedures, a federal judge ruled.
More than 800 individuals sued the Tennessee Valley Authority after a coal ash containment dike at its Kingston Fossil plant burst in December 2008, causing 5.4 million cubic yards of ash sludge to spill into a nearby river and contaminate hundreds of acres of government and privately owned land.
The Kingston Fossil plant, a coal-fired electricity generation facility, has been producing and storing coal ash, a byproduct of coal-based electricity generation, since 1954.
There are no coal ash disposal rules in place, but the Environmental Protection Agency has recently proposed regulations for handling the process, which deals with arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and other metals.
In more than 60 lawsuits, property owners from the affected riverside community claimed that TVA’s negligent design, operation, and maintenance of the plant’s coal ash storage and disposal facilities caused the dike failure and resulting spill. They sought damages for alleged injuries and property loss.