TVA Refuses to Disclose Water Quality Data From Leaking Gallatin Coal Ash Site
Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Valley Authority is refusing to turn over data showing that groundwater wells at the Gallatin Coal Ash plant on the banks of the Cumberland River, Nashville’s drinking water supply, exceed maximum contamination levels of the state water quality standards. The Tennessee Attorney General’s office has now demanded the TVA turn over the information to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, stating that its refusal to do so is a violation of state law. Additionally, TVA is withholding information recently discovered by the state that there is a new sinkhole at its unstable Gallatin site where TVA currently stores coal ash in unlined, leaking pits. TVA did not disclose the new sinkhole nor the groundwater well data in filings in a lawsuit brought against them in federal court by conservation groups seeking clean up of TVA’s coal ash sites.
“This blatant act of deception on the part of TVA about its contamination of our water supplies is just one example in a long line of egregious abuses of power and lack of transparency,” said Beth Alexander, Senior Attorney in the Nashville office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is working with the Tennessee Clean Water Network and representing Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association in federal court.
The Gallatin coal ash pollutes groundwater from numerous sinkholes throughout the plant site sending ash and toxins into the Cumberland River. Experts working on the upcoming federal trial against TVA used the utilities’ own accounting to estimate more than 27 billion gallons of coal ash has leaked from Gallatin’s ash ponds into groundwater and waterways in the past 60 years. Now, with this new undisclosed information from TVA, the contamination from coal ash pollutants could be even higher than previously estimated.
“TVA has a history of ignoring concerns of the communities and people of Tennessee, and polluting our water resources with its coal ash,” said Anne Davis, Managing Attorney of the Nashville office of SELC. “The Gallatin plant has been contaminating our water supplies for more than half a century, it’s time we put a stop to TVA’s coal ash pollution.”
TVA also twice attempted to get immunity from civil penalties for violating the Clean Water Act; a request denied by Judge Crenshaw. The trial is scheduled in federal court in Nashville, Monday January 30, 2017.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), 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 the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org