« Labor Unions and the Clean Energy Workforce | Main | Tomorrow: Clean Energy Rally in Michigan and Compass LiveBlog »

July 28, 2009

Report: TVA Could Have Prevented Coal Ash Spill

TVA Coal Ash Spill 2

There's big news out of Tennessee today - the Inspector General of the Tennessee Valley Authority released a report saying the TVA could have prevented last December's devastating coal ash spill near Harriman.

From the report:

"Furthermore, had corrective measures been taken in a timely fashion, it is possible that TVA could have potentially prevented the occurrence of the failure."

Pretty damning news. If you remember, December's coal ash spill happened at the Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant (a coal-fired power plant) when a dam failed and released more than 540 million gallons of coal ash across 400 acres, destroying 26 homes, and contaminating nearby waterways - including a river that provides drinking water for communities downstream and popular fishing holes for many anglers.


UPDATE: Sorry I didn't include this before, but if you want to read the TVA Inspector General's testimony to the House Subcommittee on Water Resources to the Environment (which is where he outlines the TVA faults), click here for the PDF. The full 111-page report from the IG is available here (PDF).

Anyway, the real damning news here is that the IG points out a problem we've been trying to raise awareness around for some time now: Treating coal ash as toxic waste and not as simple "garbage." From the IG's testimony:

The TVA culture at fossil plants relegated ash to the status of garbage at a landfill rather than treating it as a potential hazard to the public and the environment. We believe this culture resulted in management failures which contributed to the Kingston Spill.

Coal ash contains some nasty toxic substances, including arsenic, mercury, lead, selenium and more. Want that in your drinking water? Or in your nearby fishing holes? I don't think so.


Back to the original post....

The report from the Inspector General adds that if TVA doesn't take care, this same tragedy could happen at its other coal ash waste ponds in the state.

This is all yet another reminder of not only why we need regulation of coal combustion waste (PDF fact sheet)  (which is what coal ash is), but why we also need to transition away from coal and toward clean energy. Coal is dirty from the beginning to the end of its life cycle. We can do better.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Report: TVA Could Have Prevented Coal Ash Spill:

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top

Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Rss Feed

Sierra Club Main | Contact Us | Terms and Conditions of Use | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Website Help

Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2013 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.