Federal Judge Rules TVA Liable for Kingston Coal Ash Spill

Date: August 23, 2012

Source: News Room

A federal court has found the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the nation's largest public utility, liable for the massive 2008 coal ash spill near Kingston, TN, which released 5.4 million cubic yards of sludge into the surrounding countryside. Caused by the failure and collapse of an embankment holding wet coal ash, the huge spill covered over 300 acres of land with toxic sludge and is expected to require over $1.2 billion in cleanup costs. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Varlan said in a written opinion that TVA was negligent in its conduct and will be liable for damages to be determined later. Last year he ruled that TVA was protected from liability for its coal ash management policies and its decisions to keep the wet coal ash storage system running; however, TVA could be liable for other decisions that caused the embankment failure and resulting spill. In his latest decision, he wrote that "Had TVA followed its own mandatory policies, procedures, and practices, the subsurface issues underlying the failure of North Dike would have been investigated, addressed, and potentially remedied before the catastrophic failure of December 22, 2008." That spill has drawn national attention to the issue including congressional scrutiny. EPA is currently considering how to regulate coal ash more stringently.

August 23, 2012

TVA Statement on U.S. District Court Ruling on Kingston Litigation

Since the spill in December 2008, TVA's commitment has not wavered to clean up the spill, protect the public health and safety, restore the area, and, where justified, fairly compensate people who were directly impacted.

The U.S. District Court today ruled that TVA can be held liable for conduct by TVA that contributed to cause the spill.

The litigation now will proceed to a second phase where the plaintiffs may attempt to prove they were each directly impacted by the spill on an individual basis.

TVA remains committed to the full restoration of the community directly impacted by the spill, while being mindful of our responsibility to manage ratepayer dollars.

TVA has purchased approximately 180 properties and settled more than 200 other claims submitted by area residents. TVA also provided $43 million to the Roane County Economic Development Foundation for use by communities in the affected area.

TVA has taken responsibility for what happened and is committed to restoring the Kingston area. We are following through on our pledge to clean up the ash while protecting public health and safety. The recovery project is expected to continue through 2015.

TVA has been proud to be part of the Kingston community for more than 50 years, and we look forward to being part of the community for years to come.

For more information on the Kingston recovery go to www.tva.gov/kingston/.

Media Contact
Scott Brooks, Knoxville, (865) 632-8031
TVA Media Relations, Knoxville, (865) 632-6000

Sign up to receive our free Weekly News Bulletin