Tennessee Coal Ash Cleanup Update: Where On-Target Is Still Depressing News

Ben Somberg

Feb. 18, 2010

Just to give you an idea of the scope of the situation in Tennessee: More than 3 million cubic yards of coal ash were released into the waterways in the Kingston coal ash disaster in late 2008. This week comes news from cleanup officials that the removal of that waste is 70 percent complete. The EPA's PowerPoint shows that removal of the coal ash from the river is slightly ahead of forecast (slide 16).

So, just a half million cubic yards plus to go. Oh, but don't forget, says the Tennessean:

TVA plans to remove the more than 2 million cubic yards that lie just west of the river in a second phase that could take three years. The total cost of the cleanup effort could reach $1.2 billion.

Officials managing the cleanup can be forgiven for their enthusiasm at the progress to date, even though the road ahead spans several years. What’s not quite so forgivable is that the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston plant put such inadequate protections against a spill in place to begin with.

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