TVA Ash Holes

Since late December last year, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the nation's largest public utility, has been spending about a million bucks a day cleaning up more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge that spilled out of a holding pond at its Kingston power plant and all over hundreds of acres in and along the Emory River.  As the residents of Roane County, Tennessee go about repairing their property damage and putting their lives back together, one question emerging from the disaster is where will all that contaminated coal waste end up?

It turns out that much of it is being loaded on trains and shipped 350 miles away to a landfill in rural Perry County, Alabama -- much to the consternation of many local residents who are worried about the health threat possibly posed by the coal ash.  Although local leaders voted to allow the importation of the waste from the Tennessee spill based on economic reasons -- namely, the waste tonnage fees collected and the handful of jobs created by the project -- a number of citizens strongly oppose turning Perry County into the "ash hole of Alabama."

The New York Times covered the ongoing clash yesterday. With more than 200 people living within two miles of the landfill, folks are understandably wary.  As one local resident was quoted in the story: "I won't feel comfortable until I see a delegation from EPA and TVA standing on the courthouse square, each member stirring a heaping spoonful of this coal ash into a glass of Tennessee river water this stuff has already fallen into, and gargling with it."

Meanwhile, some of the coal ash recovered from the Tennessee disaster is also set to be shipped to landfills within the state.  The residents of the mountain communities in Cumberland County are fighting a regulatory battle to keep the coal ash out.  Citizens there recently filed a lawsuit against their own county officials who voted back in June to expand and modify the local landfill to accept the waste. 

Where might other pitched battles occur in Tennessee and outside its borders when TVA comes calling with the promise of cold hard cash to swallow its coal hard trash?