Judge orders TVA to move mountain of coal ash waste at Gallatin Steam Plant

U.S. District Court Judge Waverly Crenshaw of Nashville has ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority to excavate and relocate a mountain of coal ash accumulated over decades at its Gallatin Steam plant, reports WPLN.

Crenshaw said in his order, issued Friday and resolving a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, that TVA’s construction of an unlined ash waste pond in porous terrain, as the case in Gallatin, risks leakage into the neighboring Cumberland River. Because the cost of moving the waste will be so high, he did not order TVA to pay any penalties.

“TVA will be ordered to excavate the coal ash waste impounded at the Gallatin Plant and remove it to an appropriate lined site that does not pose a substantial risk of discharges into the waters of the United States. In light of the substantial costs TVA is likely to incur in remediating its ash pond disposal areas, the Court declines to assess penalties on top of its injunctive relief.”

In a statement, TVA says it’s reviewing the order to determine its next step. At this point, the court hasn’t found adverse health and environmental impacts. And TVA has already committed to modernizing its ash storage across the system.

Environmental groups are hailing the decision as a victory. Conservation organizations have been concerned since the massive 2008 ash spill at TVA’s coal plant in Kingston.

“Like at Kingston, it was necessary to take TVA to court to force it to take responsibility for its coal ash pollution,” says attorney Beth Alexander of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “TVA will be required to do the right thing again, this time at Gallatin.”

Note: The radio station has posted full text of the judge’s order HERE.

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