Environmental

TVA coal ash victims testify about property, personal damages

Residents of Roane County, Tennessee who experienced property damage or suffered health complications following the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash spill last December continue to give testimony to members of the Tennessee State House Environment Committee, according to MSNBC. Lawmakers are trying to make sure the TVA is doing everything possible to right the situation.

We told you earlier about Penny Dodson and her 18-month-old grandson Evan. For 10 days after the spill, they stayed in their home instead of fleeing. She was told by TVA authorities that they would be safe. But when Evan started having trouble breathing, doctors tested him for heavy metals. The tests revealed that Evan had elevated levels of arsenic in his body, which doctors determined was from fly ash in the community. Penny is now guilt-stricken.

While no one was injured when the coal ash pond failed and dumped more than a billion gallons of toxic material on to 300 acres of a rural east Tennessee neighborhood, authorities want to be sure damages, such as those experienced by little Evan and by the property owners whose homes and property were affected, are kept to a minimum.

TVA has executed a massive clean up, building temporary dams in Emory River in hopes of keep the ash from flowing any father downstream, and laid grass seed to keep the coal ash from flying. Sludge is being scooped out of waterways and land. How long the cleanup will take is still unclear, but the price of getting the land livable again could cost TVA as much as $825 million.

The hearings continue this week with more testimony from victims as well as testimony from representatives of the TVA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.