Beware the Poison Coming from TN Landfills

April 18th, 2019 by Attorney John Colvin

Tennessee landfills poisoning water

It was a 2008 incident in our state — a coal ash spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston plant — that led to a 2015 EPA regulation, called the Coal Ash Rule, that requires energy providers to line their landfills to prevent leakage and to monitor them for groundwater contamination.

Coal ash is the byproduct of coal burned for energy production. The EPA has declined to categorize it as hazardous waste, a designation that would come with much stricter storage and safety standards.

Yet as revealed by a USA Today – Tennessee investigation, exposure to coal ash is associated with sickness and death. Ten years after the Kingston spill, 400 clean-up workers are ill, some terminally. Another 40 are dead.

The TVA has thus far released data from two rounds of testing under the Coal Ash Rule, one in 2018 and another in 2019. And the results should alarm every resident of Tennessee. Arsenic and other toxins can be found in elevated levels around power plants and their affiliated landfills throughout the state.

If you or a loved one has become sick or injured and you believe exposure to poison from landfills or energy plants is to blame, you may have a case for compensation. Call attorney John Colvin at 931-962-1044 for a free consultation.

High Levels of Groundwater Toxins Found Throughout TN

  • Groundwater tests near the TVA’s plants in Anderson and Roane counties, as analyzed by a consortium of environmental groups, revealed unsafe levels of arsenic, lithium, and other potentially poisonous substances.
  • The nonprofit group Environmental Integrity Project analyzed groundwater monitoring data for regulated coal ash landfills and storage reservoirs and found unsafe levels of toxins at TVA’s Kingston and Bull Run Fossil plants.
  • The USA Today-Tennessee investigation echoed these results, discovering possible contamination at Kingston and Bull Run.
  • The Environmental Integrity Project also found leakage of arsenic, boron, cobalt, lithium, molybdenum, cadmium, and sulfate at coal ash landfills associated with TVA plants in Cumberland City, Gallatin, and Johnsonville. They singled out the Allen Steam Plant landfill in Memphis for an arsenic level that is 300 times higher than that considered safe for drinking.

TVA Declares Groundwater Safe

The TVA claims that the toxicity levels found around its plants and landfills is not a problem, despite the recently released reports. According to spokesman Scott Brooks, the contamination is a legacy from before the Coal Ash Rule went into effect.

“The data. . . . does not mean there are adverse impacts to human health or the environment. . . . Public drinking water is not impacted at any of our coal ash sites,” he wrote in an email to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Environmental groups like Earth Justice, the Sierra Club, and The Environmental Integrity Project disagree. They have lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate coal ash a hazardous waste. This would require the TVA to store the substance in special facilities, among other measures.

If you are a clean-up worker or a regular citizen who believes your health may have suffered due to toxins from TVA power plants and coal ash landfills, please contact our office to see if attorney John R. Colvin can assist you with obtaining the compensation you need to get your health and life back on track.   Give us a call or get in touch online.

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