TVA Coal Ash Costs Could Exceed $3 Billion

So far, the Tennessee Valley Authority has spent $168 million toward the cleanup of its massive coal ash spill in Tennessee last December.  That includes $65 million in settlements with Roane County residents who suffered property damage, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.  The nation's largest public utility expects to spend an additional $1.2 billion to completely clean up the 1.1 billion gallons of toxic sludge that spilled from the ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant. 

Every day, 85 to 100 railcars roll away from the Kingston plant carrying coal ash pumped from the bottom of the Emory River, to be stored at a landfill in Alabama.  (Residents on the receiving end call Perry County the "Ash Hole of Alabama.")

In the wake of the Kingston disaster, TVA agreed to phase out wet coal waste storage at all 11 of its plants in Tennessee and in Kentucky by 2020.  The ash ponds will be converted to dry landfills at a cost of up to $2 billion over the next decade.  TVA is budgeting $181 million for the conversions to start in 2010.

But the true cost of TVA's negligence is being paid by the people who live along the now-contaminated Emory River.  Along with damage to several homes and plummeting property values, real-estate sales in the area immediately dried up following the spill.

"I don't know if the ash spill has damaged the lake or not, but I do know the reputation of this area has been destroyed," a local realtor told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.