The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has been given permission to dredge the Emory River to remove ash that spilled into it after the utility’s coal ash pond failed last December and poured more than a billion gallons of toxic material on to 300 acres of east Tennessee property, according to MSNBC. The dredging is part of the TVA’s $1-million-a-day effort to clean up the massive mess, and was one of the items detailed in the utility’s cleanup plan aimed to return the community to “as good, if not better (condition) than they were before.”
Homes were destroyed and property was damaged when the coal ash impoundment failed and poured on to the rural east Tennessee community. TVA announced that it plans to buy the damaged properties, including lakeside homes. It will also end wet-ash storage at the plant.
Other efforts include temporarily holding the recovered ash at the Kingston site to allow it to drain before sending it to landfills or possibly recycling it. Officials vow they will work to keep the fly ash from becoming airborne.
Coal ash contains dangerous toxins such as arsenic, lead, chromium, manganese and barium that has been linked to serious health issues such as cancer, liver damage and neurological complications. A survey of 368 residents living in the area of the spill found a third of them experienced breathing problems and half experienced increased stress and anxiety.
TVA estimates its cleanup efforts to total between $525 and $825 million before the land is restored.