A federal judge has ruled that the Tennessee Valley Authority is responsible for a massive coal ash spill near Knoxville in 2008.
Had TVA acted appropriately, the underlying failure of the North Dike “would have been investigated, addressed, and potentially remedied before the catastrophic failure,” said Judge Thomas Varlan of the Eastern District.
The authority repeatedly sought to have the case dismissed. A five-week trial was held last September on whether the nation’s largest public utility should be responsible for the spill. The authority maintained its innocence. Today’s decision affirms that TVA was, in fact, blameworthy.
The spill’s cleanup is on-going and has been estimated at $1 billion. It is expected to be completed by 2015.
In a statement released after the ruling, TVA said it “remains committed to the full restoration of the community directly impacted by the spill, while being mindful of our responsibility to manage ratepayer dollars.”
More than 800 people are seeking damages from the disaster, and the TVA has already spent more than $11 million in legal fees stemming from the spill.
Coal ash is the byproduct left over after coal is burned at power plants. It’s stored in ponds and dry landfills in Louisville, at Louisville Gas & Electric’s Cane Run and Mill Creek power plants.