Remember Kingston: Communities set up billboards and newspaper ad to honor cleanup workers on the 14th anniversary of the Kingston Coal Ash Spill

December 19, 2022

Ricky Junquera –

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Four “Remember Kingston” billboards have been set up on major highways surrounding Knoxville to honor the hundreds of workers who cleaned up the Kingston Coal Ash Spill along with a full page ad in the Roane County News. More than 220 of the disaster’s cleanup workers have become sick with lung diseases and cancers, while over 60 have died. Worker families, coal-impacted communities, and allied groups created the billboards to honor the cleanup workers on the toxic spill’s 14th anniversary and to fight for no community to suffer from coal ash in the future.

Along with the billboards, Tennesseans are commemorating the spill’s anniversary with the release of the Tennessee Unifying Principles on Coal Ash. The shared principles outline steps for decision-makers to take that prioritize justice, safety, and transparency in all future handling of coal ash so that no other workers and communities suffer. The principles, along with other tributes to the Kingston cleanup workers, can be found on the Remember Kingston website.

“The Kingston Coal Ash Spill will be a part of the TVA legacy forever,” said Janie Clark, wife of Kingston coal ash cleanup worker Ansol Clark. On December 22, 2008, a dike holding in coal ash from TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant ruptured, releasing one billion gallons of coal ash slurry into the Clinch and Emory Rivers with a force that buried and pushed homes off their foundations and inundated hundred of properties with coal ash. Hundreds of workers spent several years cleaning up the Kingston coal ash spill. Workers were denied protective equipment like respirators during the cleanup and told that the ash was so safe that their lunches could be eaten on site.

“Coal ash is the waste that is left from burning coal to produce electricity. So we have a LOT,” said Julie Bledsoe, wife of Kingon coal ash worker Ron Bledsoe. “Coal ash contains toxic heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury, radium, selenium, among others. It is stored in very large ponds, landfills and in piles. Educate yourself! Find out where and how coal ash is being stored and used in your community. Be informed and demand your community handle and store coal ash properly.”

See below for the billboard locations and dates, and please reach out with any questions:

  • Billboard 1: 9711 Kingston Pike NS/F [Dec. 19 – Jan. 1]
  • Billboard 2: ST 62 0.2 Mi N/O Burchfield ES FN [Dec. 19 – Jan. 1]
  • Billboard 3 Clinton Highway at Callahan SS FE [Dec. 19 – Jan. 1]
  • Billboard 4: I-75 0.9 Mi N/O Lenoir City Exit 81 ES FS [Dec. 19 – Dec. 25]