A coal ash spill at a TVA plant in Kingston brought its first lawsuit Tuesday and the promise of another suit next year.
The owners and developers of a ash-flooded subdivision near the Kingston Fossil Plant sued TVA today for $165 million after the property was damaged by a dike burst that spilled a billion gallons of coal ash sludge.
The six-page lawsuit was filed in state court by Jot and Brenda Raymond, owners and developers of North Lake Estates in Roane County. They claim they can’t show prospective buyers their property, which they describe as suffering “significant and immediate damage” to its value since the Dec. 22 spill from a power plant.
Separately, a Knoxville environmental group served notice on TVA today of its intent to sue the federal utility under federal environmental laws.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said the spill was a man-made disaster that could have been prevented. The head of the alliance blasted TVA for not releasing studies on the content of the coal ash spilled into the Emory River three days before Christmas.
“This is a tragic situation that has brought devastating environmental damage and carries with it potential for serious human health impacts,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a nonprofit environmental group critical of coal-fired power plants. “We have been frustrated by TVA’s public statements minimizing the seriousness of this massive release and withholding information.”
Mr. Smith said he repeatedly has asked TVA to release studies on the content of the fly ash and coal slurry in the dredge pond that broke apart and spewed its contents over more than 300 acres of river and property north of the Kingston plant.
TVA has released water samples showing elevated metal levels on the first day after the spill just below the ash pond. Water samples taken at the nearby Kingston water intake were within state drinking standards, according to TVA and EPA.
But Mr. Smith said TVA has other data on the content of the coal ash itself and has yet to release such samples.
Environmental attorney Gary Davis, who filed the notice of intent to sue, said at least 60 days notice is required before the alliance may file a lawsuit against TVA under the Clean Water Act.
“With this action we are signaling our intent to use all legal means to assure that TVA is required to fully clean this mess up and take responsible actions to ensure that it never happens again,” Mr. Smith said.
TVA spokesman John Moulton said TVA will review the lawsuits and respond in federal court.