published Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

State fines TVA $11.5 million for ash spill

Audio clip

Randy Ellis

Tennessee environmental regulators Monday slapped TVA with an $11.5 million penalty for its “catastrophic coal ash release” 18 months ago at the Kingston Fossil Plant.

The fine is the largest ever levied by state environmental regulators, and federal penalties also are possible, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman Tisha Calabrese-Benton said.

“These are appropriate penalties in response to an unprecedented event,” TDEC Commissioner Jim Fyke said in a prepared statement.

The state’s order says the Tennessee Valley Authority violated the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act and the Tennessee Solid Waste Disposal Act. Officials said TVA could additionally be fined for future natural resource damage.

For now, TVA must pay TDEC $2.5 million of the penalty by July 15, and at least $2 million in supplemental environmental projects to benefit the environment must be proposed by TVA and approved by TDEC by Dec. 31. If acceptable projects equaling at least $2 million are not proposed by Dec. 31, TVA must pay any remaining balance.

In addition, TVA must pay TDEC:

* Another $2 million by July 15, 2011.

* And still another $2 million by July 15, 2012.

Anda Ray, TVA senior vice president, environment and technology, said the federal utility has received Commissioner James Fyke’s order and will comply with it, “as we remain fully committed to a complete cleanup of the Kingston ash spill.”

A failed earthen landfill wall on the 50-year-old wet ash dump broke on Dec. 22, 2008. In the dark of night, a 5.4-million-cubic-yard wall of oozing ash — 1.2 million gallons — filled river sloughs, shoved onto residential farmland and into the Emory River’s main channel. The spilled ash covered 300 acres and pushed one house across a road.

In the year and a half since, TVA has bought more than 100 properties touched or devalued by the toxics-laden ash spill.

Randy Ellis, a Roane County resident and member of two committees that worked with TVA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to plan cleanup efforts, said he was glad to see the penalty but didn’t think it was high enough.

“The $11.5 million fine by TDEC is a slap on the wrist considering the size and scope of the TVA ash disaster,” he said. “But I am glad TVA was treated the same as any private company would have been treated in a situation like this.”

He said the spill affected Roane County in a major way, and grants or environmental programs could help.

PDF: Ash health study

PDF: Swan Pond ash report

Article: Health report on ash spill disputed

Article: 1 year later: Digging out of the ashes

PDF: Kingston timeline

Article: Coal ash disaster prompts TVA to restructure

Article: Ash spill area residents still angry one year later

PDF: TVA notice of winning performance payments

PDF: Richard Moore testimony

PDF: Tom Kilgore testimony

PDF: Lessons Learned

PDF: TVA Stakeholder Letter

Article: TVA sending ash to 2 sites

PDF: Ash load test letters

PDF: Kingston ash facts

Article: Study links cancer rate, coal ash landfills

Article: Ash cleanup price tag nears $1 billion

PDF: TVA quarterly report

PDF: TVA coal plant emissions

PDF: Tom Kilgore

Article: 100 days later, ash spill questions linger for Tennessee Valley Authority

Article: Kingston ash spill site roads reopening

Article: Chattanooga : Tests show no sign of ash spill

PDF: TVA Corrective Action Plan

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority may end ash ponds in Kingston

Article: Tennessee: Brockovich firm files ash spill lawsuit

Article: Tennessee: Coal ash regulation bill pushed in wake of TVA spill

PDF: TVA ash cleanup plan

Article: Tennessee: Costs mount for Kingston ash cleanup

Article:Tennessee: Kingston ash spill prompts 2nd congressional hearing

PDF: TVA ash cleanup plan

PDF: Ash removal facts

Article:Tennessee Valley Authority to dredge Emory River to remove ash

PDF: TVA executive changes

Article:Tennessee Valley Authority shakes up executive staff

Article: Tennessee: Grassroots ash effort grows Internet roots

Article: Tennessee: Study suggests coal ash spill health risk

PDF: Duke University study

Article: Tennessee: Lawmakers push federal aid for TVA spill cleanup

PDF: TVA Ocoee Plans

Coal ash: What states and plants are putting into pond

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority plan changes Ocoee controls

Article: Tennessee: Decisions on ash spill cleanup still up in air

Article:Video: Residents react one month after spill

Article:Tennessee: Tests show no fly ash toxins in river water

Article: Tennessee: Groups protest TVA ash spills

Article: Tennessee: Polk votes to post warnings on Ocoee

PDF: Polk County Commission resolution

Article:Tennessee: More scrubbers ordered for Widows Creek plant

PDF: federal court order

Video: TVA spill prompts local water testing

PDF: Bredesen Announces Order Formalizing Cleanup and Compliance Proceeds

PDF: TVA Ocoee Dam

PDF: Order issued

Article: Tennessee: Widows Creek ash may be more toxic than Kingston’s

Article: Tennessee: Costly spill cleanup spurs debate over who pays

Article: Tennessee: Groups urge more regulations on coal ash

Article: Tennessee: Early warnings on ash pond leaks

Article: Tennessee: Environmental groups prepare to sue TVA

Article: Tennessee: Early warnings on ash pond leaks

Article:Tennessee: Brockovich aids ash victims

Article:Tennessee: Senate panel blasts TVA over Kingston ash spill

PDF: Kingston Senate Hearing Testmony

Article: Tennessee: Groups urge more regulations on coal ash

PDF: NASA satellite photo

Article: Kingston: TVA watchdog to review Kingston ash spill

Article:Lawsuit planned against TVA over Kingston coal ash spill

Article:Corker says ash spill should be 'wake-up call' for state and federal agencies

Article:Kingston: TVA watchdog to review Kingston ash spill

Article:Lawsuit planned against TVA over Kingston coal ash spill

Article: Kingston cleanup (video)

PDF: 2008 dike inspection report

Article: Early warnings on ash pond leaks

Article: Farmers worried TVA doesn’t understand their concerns

Article: Tennessee: Community awaits answers

Article: Tennessee: Spill cleanup shifts focus away from emissions

Article:Tennessee Valley Authority spill could endanger sturgeon

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority to spread grass seed at Kingston coal ash spill site

PDF: EPA Testing Results

Article: Metal levels at ash spill exceed TVA's measure

Editorial Cartoon: Clean Coal

PDF: TVA incident action plan 01/01/09

PDF: Preliminary TVA Ash Spill Sample Data

Video: Ash spill clean up

Video: Ash spill demolition

Video: Ash spill aftermath

Article: Tennessee-American tests water following Kingston plant spill

Article: Tennessee: Governor says state will toughen oversight on TVA facilities

PDF: Chattanooga_Water_Quality

PDF:Ash spill

Article:Tennessee: Corps to dredge river to clear coal ash spill

Article:Tennessee: Questions persists on spill

PDF: Berke TVA Spill

PDF: Wamp Statement on Kingston

PDF: EPA Statement on Ash Release

Article:Tennessee Valley Authority vows to clean up spill,

Article:Tennessee Valley Authority boosts estimate from coal ash spill

Article: First tests show water safe after ash deluge

Article: Cleanup begins in wake of ash pond flood

Article: Tennessee: Cleanup begins in wake of ash pond flood

Article: TVA dike bursts in Tennessee, flooding 8-10 homes

“I want to see that money find its way back to Roane County,” he said.

Ms. Calabrese-Benton said TVA already has reimbursed the state $3 million in separate regulatory oversight costs as required by a January 2009 emergency commissioner’s order. TVA must continue to pay these oversight costs over and above the $11.5 million total assessment, she said.

Ms. Ray said ash recovery work has progressed around the clock for more than 17 months and nearly three-fifths of the spilled ash has been recovered. It is being shipped to a disposal site approved by both state and federal authorities, she said.

“We are committed to make things right for the people of Roane County, and that will remain our priority until the job is done,” she said.

EPA spokeswoman Davina Marraccini said EPA and TVA signed a consent agreement that says TVA will pay for all of the cleanup as well as EPA’s oversight.

“If they violate any terms of the order we could at that point assess stipulated penalties against them,” she said.

The cleanup has been estimated to cost $1.2 billion, and to date TVA has been estimated to have spent $500 miliion, she said.

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Sailorman said...

TVA is paying squat - we are.

June 15, 2010 at 2:21 p.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.