Press Release | September 25, 2018

Statement in Regards to Decision in Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on TVA Coal Ash

Unlined Leaking Coal Ash Pits Continue to Pollute Cumberland River

NASHVILLE, TN— In response to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision today, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) issued the following statement on behalf of DJ Gerken, SELC managing attorney:

“We are disappointed by the court’s findings in today’s decision, which breaks with other courts across the country. However, it doesn’t change the lower court’s factual determination that the Tennessee Valley Authority has been polluting the Cumberland River for decades. The state of Tennessee continues to enforce these issues against the federal utility in a separate case.

In a week where neighboring states around the Southeast have dealt with catastrophic floods that inundated coal ash lagoons, it’s a reminder that storing highly toxic coal ash in unlined, leaking pits next to our rivers and lakes is irresponsible. It’s past time for utilities to move their coal ash to dry, lined storage away from our waterways.

For nearly 60 years TVA dumped coal ash in the cheapest way possible, discarding it in unlined, leaking pits covering 1,000 acres on the banks of the Cumberland River and Old Hickory Lake. The Gallatin site’s multiple unlined, leaking coal ash pits contain billions of gallons of coal waste leaching a variety of toxic substances into Tennessee waterways, including arsenic and lead.

We are reviewing the decision and will consult with our client, the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, regarding next steps.”

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For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region.

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