News | August 4, 2017

Victory for clean water and communities in coal ash lawsuit against TVA

Today, a federal court in Nashville ruled against the Tennessee Valley Authority for coal ash leaks at its Gallatin Fossil Plant and ordered it excavate and move its coal ash from a leaking, unlined pit to a safe dry lined location. The ruling came in favor of plaintiffs Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, represented by the SELC and co-plaintiff Tennessee Clean Water Network.

Attorneys at work

Senior Attorney Beth Alexander, right, led a team of attorneys arguing the Gallatin case.

This is a huge victory for the people of Tennessee and for all those fighting to ensure we have clean water in our state and our country,” said Senior Attorney Beth Alexander. “Like at Kingston, it was necessary to take TVA to court to force it to take responsibility for its coal ash pollution. TVA will be required to do the right thing again, this time at Gallatin.

In the order Judge Waverly Crenshaw, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, noted that, as long as coal ash remained at the site, there would continue to be risks associated with this toxic pollutant.

It is difficult to imagine why anyone would choose to build an unlined ash waste pond in karst terrain immediately adjacent to a river,” said Judge Waverly Crenshaw in his order. “While the decision to build the Ash Pond Complex is in the past, the consequences of that decision continue today, and it now falls on the Court to address them. The way to do so is not to cover over those decades-old mistakes, but to pull them up by their roots. TVA, as the entity responsible for the ponds, must be the entity to do so.

Background on the case is available here.