Environmental

New class action lawsuit filed against TVA, consultants

Plaintiffs in three class action lawsuits have joined forces to fight the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and two of its consultants for compensation to cover unspecified damages and payment for medical monitoring as a result of the December 2008 coal ash spill from the TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant in east Tennessee. The amended complaint redefines the class of potential plaintiffs, which includes anyone who owns property in the Swan Pond community around the plant north of the Clinch River, anyone who lived in the same area when the spill occurred, and anyone who owns property on Watts Bar Lake from the mouth of the Emory River to Watts Bar Dam. Attorneys say the classification could add hundreds more plaintiffs to the lawsuit.

“This new filing should move the case forward more quickly and efficiently,” said Beasley Allen attorney Rhon Jones. “It should also allow the claims of those seeking class action status to speak with one unified voice.”

The lawsuit alleges that the TVA and two if its engineering consultants, Geosyntec Consultants Inc., and WorleyParsons Corp., trespassed on plaintiffs’ property; was negligent in designing, building and operating the Kingston Fossil Plant ash impoundment; violated federal and state environmental regulations; and committed other civil violations resulting from the spill.

The TVA coal ash spill dumped more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge on to a neighboring community and into nearby waterways. Piled as high as nine feet in some areas, the coal ash knocked houses off their foundations, damaged property and contaminated the Emory River. Coal ash contains arsenic and other carcinogens that environmentalists fear may have serious effects on humans and wildlife in the area. Numerous residents were displaced, and several have reported emotional and physical problems since the spill. Some residents, including a toddler, have tested positive for heavy metals in their bloodstream.