Environmental

Homeowner unsure of home value after toxic spill

“The value of the property is gone. Nobody’s going to want to buy it,” says Wesley Self as he walks in his mother’s front yard in rural East Tennessee, the home where she had lived for 35 years. Her property was one of the 300 acres damaged in the Dec. 22 coal ash spill that dumped more than a billion gallons of toxic ash and sludge on to land and rivers, destroying property in its wake, according to the Knoxville Biz.

The Tennessee Valley Authority still is not sure when the cleanup will end or how much it will cost to resolve the issue. The authority, which will file a report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sometime next month, says its early estimates to clean up the spill have the cost at about $1 million per day.

Tests still show high levels of toxins in the air and water.

As a temporary fix, the TVA has scattered winter rye seed and fertilizer over the ash to keep it from flying around. The weather, too, has helped keep the ash at bay, offering a wet or frozen climate. “One it all starts thawing, I don’t know what it’s going to do,” Self says to the newspaper.

The spill’s damage and cleanup efforts have left the 250 residents in the area taking back road detours to get to and from their homes. Construction is underway on a 2,000-foot weir dam to keep more fly ash from getting into the Emory River. Another, smaller weir dam already was laced at the mouth of the Emory to keep ash from getting into the Clinch River.

As for Self, he says he will just watch and wait. “I don’t know that we’ll be able to stay here,” he says.