Federal Judge In Knoxville Finds TVA Responsible For Kingston Coal Ash Spill

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A federal judge in Knoxville has ruled that TVA was responsible for a massive coal ash spill at its Kingston, Tn., facility in 2008.

Judge Thomas Varlan said TVA should have investigated and remedied problems at the site prior to the "catastrophic failure."

Total cleanup costs, which are ongoing, are estimated to exceed $1 billion.

TVA officials said, "Since the spill in December 2008, TVA’s commitment has not wavered – to clean up the spill, protect the public health and safety, restore the area, and, where justified, fairly compensate people who were directly impacted. 

"The U.S. District Court today ruled that TVA can be held liable for conduct by TVA that contributed to cause the spill. 

"The litigation now will proceed to a second phase where the plaintiffs may attempt to prove they were each directly impacted by the spill on an individual basis.

"TVA remains committed to the full restoration of the community directly impacted by the spill, while being mindful of our responsibility to manage ratepayer dollars.

"TVA has purchased more than 180 properties and settled more than 200 other claims submitted by area residents. TVA also provided $43 million to the Roane County Economic Development Foundation for use by communities in the affected area.

"TVA has taken responsibility for what happened and is committed to restoring the Kingston area. We are following through on our pledge to clean up the ash while protecting public health and safety. The recovery project is expected to continue through 2015.

"TVA has been proud to be part of the Kingston community for more than 50 years, and we look forward to being part of the community for years to come."

For more information on the Kingston recovery go to http://www.tva.gov/kingston/.

Beasley, Allen, the Montgomery, Ala., law firm representing those who have sued TVA, said, "Judge Varlan ruled that TVA is liable for the failure of its coal ash storage and containment pond, which was breached in December 2008. The failure of the North Dike of TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County, Tn., allowed more than 1 billion gallons of ash sludge to envelop the surrounding community. When the containment pond ruptured, the resulting tsunami of coal ash waste knocked homes from their foundations and contaminated the Emory and Clinch rivers.

"In his ruling, Judge Varlan found that TVA did not build the holding ponds according to plan, did not train its inspectors how to inspect the stability of the dikes, and did not properly maintain the facility to prevent the failure of the dikes. The ruling will allow Plaintiffs’ claims of negligence, trespass and private nuisance to proceed to Phase II proceedings to determine damages. Hundreds of people have filed lawsuits alleging damage to their property and health."

Beasley Allen attorneys Rhon Jones, head of the firm’s toxic torts section; Brantley Fry and David Byrne are representing the plaintiffs. 

Attorney Jones said, “We are pleased with the ruling and it is apparent that Judge Varlan put a great deal of thought and attention into the opinion. We look forward to presenting our clients’ damages in Phase II of the litigation. This ruling will help allow the residents and property owners affected by the coal ash spill to hold TVA accountable for the destruction of their very way of life. As a government corporation, TVA has certain immunity, but today’s ruling shows that not even the Federal government is above reproach when its actions – or inactions in this case – result in a massive disaster that changed the face of an entire community.”

Beasley, Allen said, "Cleanup efforts have been ongoing since the spill and are expected to cost around $1.2 billion. The cleanup has turned the once-tranquil Watts Bar Lake community into a massive construction site. The EPA and TVA held public meetings just this month to determine how to deal with 500,000 cubic yards of coal ash that remain on the Emory and Clinch river bottoms to this day."


 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described the spill as “one of the worst environmental disasters of its kind.” To put things in perspective with another recent environmental catastrophe, the BP oil spill released more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of nearly five months. The TVA coal ash spill released more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge over 300 acres in East Tennessee within the course of minutes. Toxic sludge from the coal ash containment pond contains arsenic, lead, mercury and other heavy metals.

 

 


New Hiener Book Of Historic Chattanooga Photos Available At Zarzours

The new Paul Hiener Historic Chattanooga Photos book published by Chattanoogan.com is available at Zarzours Restaurant. Zarzours is located on the Southside on Rossville Avenue behind the Main Street Fire Hall #1. Mr. Hiener, a longtime Chattanooga printer and lifelong resident, collected over 3,000 historic pictures of his beloved hometown. He made some of the photos ... (click for more)

Former Nashville Councilman Announces Bid For Chair Of The Tennessee Democratic Party

Jamie D. Isabel, Sr. former Nashville City Councilman and a former member of the Tennessee Democratic executive committee, announces his intent to run for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic party.   Over the last two weeks he has contacted the 66 members of the Executive Committee for their support.   "Mr. Isabel is enthusiastically presenting his plans to rebuild ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: You Can’t Sue You

The Hamilton County School Board will convene an hour earlier tomorrow to discuss “facilities” and the question of the hour is “Which ones?” Several communities are actively studying pulling away from the county’s Department of Education and the stew is thickening by the day. Now comes the revelation that school board attorney Scott Bennett has sent an email to the town of Signal ... (click for more)

Top-Ranked Bradley Uses Fast Start To Beat Baylor

There’s no question that the Bradley Bears are ranked first in the initial state wrestling poll and they proved they deserve to be in that top spot following a 43-30 victory over the Baylor Red Raiders. Baylor is ranked fourth in that first poll and will surely be a force to be reckoned with in Division II as the season progresses, but the Bears are head and shoulders ahead after ... (click for more)

Run-And-Gun Tyner Shoots Down Red Bank 71-33

Tyner opponents better batten down the hatches if the Rams ever iron out their half-court offensive struggles. Even without that weapon showing up Tuesday night, the Rams showed they have a run-and-gun assault that can bury an opponent under an avalanche of points. And their defense is as tenacious as ever. Tyner outscored Red Bank 15-0 to start the second quarter ... (click for more)