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Ash resolution may not fly

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

dlawrence@roanecounty.com

Residents may not get the chance to vote on a fly ash referendum after all.

Commissioner James Harmon said election officials have informed him that it might not be legal to let voters decide whether to use a Midtown landfill as a fly ash dump.

Despite the uncertainty, the county budget committee still voted 4-0 on Thursday to send the fly ash resolution to the commission for a vote.

Whether it’s legal or not could be irrelevant to one official. If the fly ash resolution does come up for a vote, Commissioner Mike Hooks said he planned to offer an amendment to take out the referendum and let the commission’s vote be the final say so.

Officials say it costs around $50,000 to hold a referendum. Hooks cited the cost as the reason why he would make the amendment.     

Harmon said he wants voters to be the final authority because opening up the landfill for fly ash disposal is controversial.

Fly ash has kept Roane County in the news ever since a dike failure at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant allowed 5.4 million cubic yards of the toxic coal combustion material to spill into the environment.

The resolution calls for ash produced at the fossil plant in the future to be dumped in the Midtown landfill.

Chuck Priddy, the engineer who was been advising local officials, said the landfill could be constructed to hold as much as 8 million cubic yards of ash.

Officials say revenue generated from the ash dump could be used for school construction and other county building needs.        

The ash contains several substances, such as arsenic and selenium, that can be dangerous to human health.

The commission is scheduled to meet on Monday (today) at 7 p.m. at the courthouse.