Four years after a coal processing plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) accidentally released tons of toxic coal ash into waterways in Kingston, the cleanup has finally come to an end.
But just because cleanup efforts have ceased, that does not mean that the pollution problem is gone.
In fact, quite the opposite is true. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a deal with the TVA to allow the company to stop their cleanup efforts and allow “natural river processes” to dispose of the remaining toxic sludge.
Reports say that as much as 500,000 cubic yards of coal ash sludge remain in the Kingston River, a result of the 2008 dam rupture that released the coal ash from the processing plant. According to the EPA and TVA, it's perfectly fine to allow those contaminants to remain in the river. As the EPA puts it, dredging up the remaining coal ash would actually release even more pollutants into the water – including contaminants left over from previous industrial accidents and Department of Energy projects.