- Tennessee state agencies are suing the Tennessee Valley Authority for violating rules on coal ash disposal at its Gallatin coal plant, seeking penalties of up to $17,000 per day, the Bradenton Herald reports.
- The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Attorney General filed the lawsuit following a November notice that three environmental advocacy groups intended to sue TVA over coal ash disposal. The agencies say the coal ash is leaking into groundwater.
- Federal regulators issued rules in December on the handling of coal ash, but environmentalists say they did not go far enough it determining the waste was a toxic material.
According to TVA, the power agency "has taken a number of steps to make the efficient generation of power at Gallatin as clean as possible," and "the plant is equipped with electrostatic precipitators that capture ash from the burning coal." But Tennessee's lawsuit charges the coal ash ponds are leaking harmful chemicals into the area's groundwater.
The lawsuit "appears to address the most serious coal ash problems at the Gallatin ponds," said Stephanie Durman Matheny, attorney for the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN). "While we appreciate the state taking this action today, ultimately it will be the environmental results that count. We hope and expect that the results achieved through this lawsuit will protect public health and the environment."
In November the Tennessee Scenic River Association, TCWN and Southern Environmental Law Center sent a notice of intent to sue.
“We are pleased the state has taken action in response to the notice sent on behalf of these three citizen groups," said Anne Davis, managing attorney of Southern Environmental Law Center’s Nashville office. “We remain concerned about the serious ongoing environmental problems at TVA’s Gallatin Fossil Plant, including releases of coal ash contaminants to groundwater and to the Cumberland River.”