One year ago today, coal ash poured out from an impoundment pond at the Kingston Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) fossil fuel plant and blanketed a neighboring community with more than a billion gallons of toxic material. Houses were destroyed, property was damaged, waterways were contaminated, lives were changed forever. One year after the devastating spill, the TVA is engaged in a massive cleanup expected to take three years and more than $1 billion, but residents see little improvement.
“The community that was the first affected by the ash spill on Dec. 22, 2008 (is) the same community that to this date has been overlooked and forgotten not only by the TVA but also by the state of Tennessee and Roane County,” said Randy Ellis, member of the Roane County Long-Term Recovery Committee at a meeting among residents affected by the spill.
The 300-plus acres that were blanketed by the coal ash – as much as nine feet in some areas – is a far cry from the picturesque countryside it was a year ago. Heavy equipment push mounds of earth-toned dirt over once-green pastures. Trucks line up to take recovered ash to landfills in other states and counties. Houses since bought by the nation’s largest utility sit uninhabited. The TVA says it is working tirelessly to restore the land, but residents remain skeptical that restoration is even possible.
“When the press flies over this, it looks like they (TVA) are doing lots of things. They’re moving ash here; they’ve got dikes built; they’ve got barges in the water. It looks like a lot of activity,” says resident Don Simon. “But show me where there’s been actual progress made.”
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press