TVA Failed to Investigate Practices That Led to Kingston Spill

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Kingston coal ash spill (photo: TVA)

Not only did its officials ignore warnings about dam safety, but the Tennessee Valley Authority also tried to bury a study revealing the cause of the massive coal ash spill last December 22 near Knoxville. Things had deteriorated so badly at the TVA that its leader, CEO and President Tom Kilgore, admitted to lawmakers at a congressional hearing that the nation’s largest utility has a “larger cultural problem” it needs to address.

In addition to hearing testimony from Kilgore, lawmakers were given a report by the TVA’s inspector general that concluded the utility giant failed for more than 20 years to heed warnings that might have prevented the spill. The report also noted that TVA officials’ reaction to the environmental disaster was to “’circle the wagons,’ carefully craft press releases to project TVA in the most favorable light and to tightly control any reports done by TVA of the failure to minimize legal liability.”
It is estimated that it will cost $1 billion to clean up the 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic-laden coal ash that spilled out of the earthen dams and holding ponds at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant and into the Emory River and nearby homes. The disaster has raised questions about the safety of other coal ash ponds located around the country.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Auditor: TVA Lawyers Limited Ash Spill Report (by Duncan Mansfield and Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press)


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