TVA sludge release kills Ocoee River fish

TVA sludge release kills Ocoee River fish

January 9th, 2009 by Pam Sohn and Ron Clayton in Local - Breaking News

A deliberate TVA sludge release on the Ocoee River has caused a fish kill and prompted the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to investigate.

Working to drain a reservoir and repair one of three dams on the Ocoee, which flows to the Hiwassee and then to the Tennessee rivers, TVA over the weekend released bottom sediment into the rocky Ocoee, according to environmental reports.

By mid-week, according to Ocoee residents, the sludge - containing heavy metals and other toxic compounds - had killed fish and other aquatic life that finally had begun to return to what once was a dead river after decades of copper mining runoff.

River outfitters and Cherokee National Forest officials said the sludge even covered sidewalks at Olympic Whitewater Sports Center. Rains Wednesday night washed much of the mud downstream, they said.

TVA officials could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.