The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) did not build its holding ponds according to plan, did not train its inspectors to ensure the stability of the dikes, and did not properly maintain its Kingston, Tenn., facility in order to prevent one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, a U.S. District judge ruled Thursday. TVA will be held liable for the December 2008 coal ash spill that dumped more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge onto a neighboring community. The ruling allows the hundreds of plaintiffs who filed lawsuits against the TVA to move one step closer to recovering for alleged damages to their property and health.
“We are pleased with the ruling and it is apparent that Judge (Thomas) Varlan put a great deal of thought and attention into the opinion,” says Beasley Allen attorney Rhon Jones. Jones heads up the firm’s Toxic Torts section. “We look forward to presenting our clients’ damages in Phase II of the litigation.”
Coal ash from the breached pond at the TVA fossil fuel plant in Kingston, Tenn., covered more than 300 acres of rural countryside. The wave of sludge knocked houses off their foundations, damaged property, and contaminated the Emory and Clinch rivers. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, mercury and other heavy metals, which can be harmful to both wildlife and humans. The cleanup effort continues and is expected to cost more than $1 billion.
“This ruling will help allow the residents and property owners affected by the coal ash spill to hold TVA accountable for the destruction of their very way of life,” Jones says. “As a government corporation, TVA has certain immunity, but today’s ruling shows that not even the Federal government is above reproach when its actions – or inactions in this case – result in a massive disaster that changed the face of an entire community.”
Source: Beasley Allen