Smith Responds to TVA Ash Spill Analysis

Guest Blog | June 25, 2009 | Press Releases

Knoxville, Tenn. (June 25) – Today, TVA conducted a press briefing to introduce a 1,400-page analysis of the root cause of the Dec. 22 coal ash spill in Harriman, Tenn. Executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Stephen A. Smith’s response to the findings follows:

“This appears to be a substantial body of work that’s going to be an important contributor to realizing the causes of the TVA coal ash spill, and I think it’s a vitally important tool.

“But there are some important things to note in this analysis. First, this event was not a natural disaster. Secondly, the report information shows exactly why wet stacking is so problematic and should not be used in the future. And third, there was a breakdown in the use of appropriate engineering techniques due to the overlook of slime material in the site development area.

“It appears that the proper site characterization was not done during the expansion of this site. The report points to structurally weak ‘slimes’ in the foundation from historic ash disposal as a significant contributing factor. One would think that TVA, with its vast engineering experience, would have known to look for this material.

“The report also leads one to the conclusion that wet storage of ash causes significant engineering risk. This should push Congress and EPA to act quickly to regulate coal ash and phase out wet storage.

“The report clearly lays to rest the misinformation pointing to the event as a natural disaster. There is no evidence that this is anything other than a failure of human engineering to contain a toxic material.

“Within this analysis, we are looking at issues that could have been avoided, meaning that there are accountable forces in play. I certainly hope that alteration in management of coal ash sites will be made due to this analysis and further research will be conducted moving forward.” # # #