EPA bowed to TVA in nation's largest coal ash disaster, records show

EPA bowed to TVA in nation's largest coal ash disaster, records show

August 23rd, 2017 by The Knoxville News Sentinel in Business Around the Region

Unidentified workers take a break from relocating coal fly ash while at the coal-fired TVA Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant near a breached earthen dike which released over 1 billion gallons of fly ash and coal-burning residues into the Emory River on Dec. 22, 2008.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

The Environmental Protection Agency knew the coal ash at the center of the nation's largest spill had dangerous levels of arsenic in it but ignored its own supervisor's recommendations on how to protect workers from it, documents say.

Records obtained by USA TODAY NETWORK —Tennessee in an ongoing series of stories about the treatment of blue—collar laborers who cleaned up the December 2008 disaster in Roane County show¬†the EPA gave in to the demands of a global government contractor and the nation's largest electricity provider for less protection and safety standards for those workers.

Those records also revealed tests approved by the EPA and meant to keep workers from breathing in too much arsenic didn't focus on arsenic at all, and the EPA allowed testing to be abandoned entirely — at the height of the cleanup effort when fly ash was captured on film swirling all over the work site.

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