Federal Judge Finds TVA Liable for Coal Ash Spill

Guest Blog | August 29, 2012 | Press Releases

Knoxville, TN (August 29, 2012) — On Thursday, August 23, 2012, the Federal District Court in Eastern Tennessee found the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) liable for damages caused by the coal ash spill that occurred at its Kingston Fossil Plant. The judge’s opinion held that this environmental disaster, which occurred just before Christmas in 2008, could have been prevented. The judge’s statement said that the devastating spill resulted from TVA’s negligence and failure to adhere to its own rules and procedures intended to ensure containment of coal ash stored at the facility. Before issuing its landmark decision against the federal-owned utility last week, the Federal Court heard arguments from both TVA and plaintiffs, which included approximately 800 property owners who were directly impacted by the spill of more than a billion gallons of wet coal ash. Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued this statement about the recent ruling: “The Court’s decision was overdue and welcome validation of what we have known for years – that TVA was clearly in the wrong and should have worked more proactively with the citizens of the area, because they put their lives and property in jeopardy. This decision is an important first step in helping those impacted by this disaster rebuild their lives and restore their properties and property values. “The Kingston spill highlighted a much bigger problem: there are currently no federal laws regulating coal ash storage. SACE and other environmental groups have long pushed for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue strong regulations that would ensure the safe storage of billions of gallons of hazardous coal ash waste currently stored all across the nation so that other communities do not suffer the same fate as Kingston, Tennessee. “After the devastating spill, the American people were promised that EPA and the current administration were going to remedy this lack of oversight, but nearly four years later we are still waiting. EPA and the Obama Administration have apparently punted the issue down the road. Likewise, any effort to enact coal ash regulations has only been stymied by Congress, which continues to delay and obstruct the regulatory process with politically motivated bills. Unfortunately continued delay seems likely, as any action from EPA won’t occur until after the upcoming Presidential election. # # # You can read our previous statements and releases on the Kingston Coal Ash Disaster here: 12/26/2008 – SACE Responds to TVA Ash Spill 12/30/2008 – SACE Serves Legal Notices for Future Suit Against TVA 01/08/2009 – Stephen Smith to Testify, Call for Remake of TVA 01/12/2009 – SACE’s Smith – E&ETV Interview on Coal Ash Disaster 07/21/2010 – SACE Demands Coal Ash Hearing in Tennessee 11/19/2010 – Comments Submitted to EPA on Proposed Coal Ash Regulations Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. www.cleanenergy.org