Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | March 18, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says EPA to inspect fly ash ponds at coal-fired utility plants due to massive TVA spill in TN.

TVA's Kingston Station is home of $800 million fly ash sludge release.

TVA's Kingston Station is home of $800 million fly ash sludge release.

Responding to a massive coal ash spill at a TVA facility in Kingston, Tennessee in December 2008, EPA plans to gather critical coal ash impoundment information from electrical utilities nationwide, conduct on-site assessments to determine structural integrity and vulnerabilities, order cleanup and repairs where needed, and develop new regulations for future safety.

TVA’s sludge release flooded more than 300 acres of land, damaging homes and property. Coal ash from the release flowed into the Emory and Clinch rivers, filling large areas of the rivers and killing fish. TVA cost estimates for the clean-up range between $525 million and $825 million, which does not include long-term cleanup costs.

EPA formally requested that electric utilities that have surface impoundments or similar units provide information about the structural integrity of their units. EPA estimates there may be as many as 300 such units. These information requests are legally enforceable and must be responded to fully.

Working closely with other federal agencies and the states, EPA will review the information provided by the facilities to identify impoundments or similar units that need priority attention. EPA also will visit many of these facilities to see first-hand if the management units are structurally sound. The agency will require appropriate remedial action at any facility that is found to pose a risk for potential failure.

The assessment and analysis of all such units located at electric utilities in the U.S. will be compiled in a report and made available to the public. Faced with growing public criticism, EPA plans to develop regulations on fly ash ponds. EPA anticipates having a proposed rule ready for public comment by the end of 2008.   EPA’s letter to electric utilities:

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