Waste from TVA Spill Begins to Arrive at Alabama Landfill amid Controversy

Date: August 30, 2009

Source: News Room

Spent coal ash from the massive spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) site in Kingston, TN last December has begun to arrive at the Arrowhead landfill in Perry County, AL, to the tune of nearly 8,500 tons on every trainload. The New York Times reports that the cleanup has been met with some controversy and skepticism. To county leaders, the plan to import 3 million tons of waste that was also approved by the US EPA, is a blessing and will contribute more than $3 million in host fees to an annual county budget of just $4.5 million. However, other residents accuse the TVA and the landfill company of environmental racism since the county is 70% black with a third of all households living below the poverty line. County leaders, who are mostly black, bristle at those accusations, saying arguing the ash is perfectly safe and that criticism has been fostered by outsiders, or even competitors who wanted the ash disposal contract for themselves. Bob Deacy, vice president of clean strategies and project development for the TVA said that Arrowhead was chosen because it was accessible by rail instead of truck, because it underbid other sites and because, unlike closer landfills, it had the capacity to handle all of the ash.

The Arrowhead landfill is also considered ideal for its location atop a nearly impermeable bed known as the Selma chalk that is about 600 feet above the water table. Like other sanitary landfills it is equipped with pollution control measures including liners and a leachate control system that far exceeds the conditions of the wet storage ponds such as the site in Kingston, TN. Coal ash contains toxins like arsenic and lead that have contaminated the water supply at more than 60 sites nationwide.

See also: "Coal Ash Spilled at TVA Plant in Tenn. Will be Rail-Hauled to Alabama," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20090708E.htm).

See also: "TVA Plans to Rail Millions of Tons of Coal Ash Waste to Central Alabama Landfill," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20090609A.htm).

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