Chattanooga : Tests show no sign of ash spill

Chattanooga : Tests show no sign of ash spill

March 21st, 2009 by Cliff Hightower in Local Regional News

Months of daily testing by two separate organizations shows no signs of any toxins in the Tennessee River related to the fly ash spill in Kingston, Tenn., officials said Friday.

"We did eight weeks of (testing), and we didn't see anything upriver or downriver," said Jerry Stewart, the city's director of waste resources management.

Department of Public Works expanded its testing of metals in December after the spill at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant. Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield ordered the city department to conduct the tests.

At the same time, Tennessee-American Water conducted its own testing. Kim Dalton, spokeswoman for the company, said Friday no increases of metals have been found in the river.

"As of today, we've still seen no impact from the coal ash spill," she said.

State officials had said it would take about 60 days for any contamination to come downriver from the coal plant. The spill occurred Dec. 22, dumping more than 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash sludge onto nearby land and into the Emory River, which feeds into the Tennessee.

Mr. Stewart said the department has suspended its expanded metal testing unless the state asks local officials to continue.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mr. Littlefield, said Friday they agreed with the decision.

"We were kept abreast," Mr. Beeland said. "We were satisfied with it."

Ms. Dalton said the water company scaled back to weekly testing on March 1 and will test every other week in April, which was its standard practice before the spill. The company has more than 30 years of water quality history documentation, she said.

"We're confident there's no elevated levels of contaminants that should concern our customers," Ms. Dalton said. "We don't anticipate anything happening as time goes on."