TVA's ash spill liability

A federal judge reasonably decided this week that TVA is legally liable for the damages caused by the huge toxic ash spill four years ago at its Kingston power plant. The spill swamped adjacent residential properties and fouled the Clint, Emory and Tennessee rivers in the nation's biggest environmental disaster of its kind. The verdict is not surprising. What is surprising is that TVA has sought since the spill to avoid assumption of its liability, and spent well in excess of $11 million to defend its irrational defense.

The agency's own standards and procedures have long required regular, thorough examinations of the huge retention ponds - lakes would be a more fitting description - it has routinely used for decades to permanently store the toxic sludge produced by its coal-fired power plants.