In late summer and early fall, residents of Anderson County, Tenn., noticed a mysterious dust coating their cars and homes. In October, the Tennessee Valley Authority found traces of coal ash in eight of 13 samples.
TVA claimed the samples proved air pollution was not coming from their Bull Run Fossil Plant, but residents are skeptical. The plant is the only producer of coal ash in Eastern Tennessee, creating 1,500 tons of ash every day. TVA reported in a statement that, along with similar samples taken by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the “results affirm that the material is consistent with surface soil.”
Bull Run is scheduled to close in 2023, and TVA is proposing to open a coal ash landfill in Claxton, Tenn., for the plant. At a TDEC hearing in October, the idea received local pushback due to health and environmental concerns, including from Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, who wrote a letter to TDEC criticizing TVA’s plans for the site.
TVA has already acquired the land, which is in close proximity to roads, neighborhoods and the Worthington Branch river. The utility has not decided whether to locate the landfill there, but The Oak Ridger reports that TVA is pursuing related permits.
The Anderson County Commission scheduled a public hearing for the proposed landfill on Feb. 18.
Roane County, Tenn., resident Margie Delozier and several local governments are suing TVA for failing to protect the public from hazards associated with the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. The disaster allegedly contaminated Delozier’s property and exposed the community to toxic chemicals. The lawsuit also holds the organization hired to clean up the spill, Jacobs Engineering, accountable for failing to protect affected residents. — By Rachael Kelley