Test results confirm TVA’s coal ash leaking into Cumberland River, private drinking wells

Evidence of toxic coal ash was found just upstream of the City of Gallatin's drinking water intakes on the Cumberland River, which is pictured above. (© iStock)

Toxic coal ash in the Cumberland River near Tennessee Valley Authority’s Gallatin Fossil Plant was confirmed in tests released today by SELC, Tennessee Clean Water Network, and Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association. The Cumberland River is the source of drinking water for City of Gallatin, Nashville, and others in Tennessee.

These conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) last spring alleging that TVA has been illegally contaminating Old Hickory Lake and the Cumberland River with coal ash leaking into groundwater and surface water from unlined storage pits along the river. Today these groups released test results showing that a sediment sample collected from the river bottom near the Gallatin plant is composed mostly of coal ash. The test results were included in documents filed today in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

The filing also included test results obtained by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) at the request of the conservation groups, which showed that hexavalent chromium was detected in two private drinking water wells and in the City of Gallatin water intake at levels above the EPA Risk-Based Screening Level. Boron, a known coal ash indicator, was also detected in the private wells tested.

"These recent test results confirm that contamination is serious, ongoing, and could harm the environment and people who live near the Gallatin Plant and whose drinking water is drawn nearby,” said Beth Alexander, Senior Attorney.

Watch the clips reporting on the coal ash discovery from WSMV 4  and FOX 17  TV news stations in Nashville.

Read coverage of the results in The Tennessean.

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