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TVA critics point to mess after recent rains

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

dlawrence@roanecounty.com

I told you so.

That’s what some critics of TVA are saying now that water has risen and icky substances can be seen floating atop local waterways.

TVA activist Rick Cantrell attributed it to the fly ash spill and the agency’s plan to remove the ash from the Emory River.

“Their plan has been faulty from the beginning,” Cantrell said. “Now we’re going to pay the price for it. Until they Superfund this, every time it rains now for two or three days, we’re going to have flooding and we’re going to have what we got right now.”

Cantrell collected water samples from around the area on Monday, including at Kingston City Park.

He said he did so because he wanted to be able to dispute TVA’s testing.   

“A lot of us warned against this from the very beginning,” Cantrell said. “I honestly believe if they tested right now you’d see raised levels of selenium and you’d see raised levels of arsenic.”

The area surrounding TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant was engulfed with 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash last December when a retention pond at the plant gave way.

Most of the spilled fly ash ended up in the Emory River. The disaster sparked criticism and outcry from residents, politicians and environmental groups.

Opponents of TVA’s cleanup plan have even taken their concerns to federal court.

Cantrell said the latest developments just validate the concerns.  

“They should have Superfunded this from the beginning,” he said.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund allows the EPA to clean up hazardous waste sites and to force responsible parties to reimburse the government for the costs.

TVA maintains that fly ash is not a hazardous waste, although it does contain hazardous substances.   

The EPA did respond to the ash disaster here, but left town in January and transferred the role of lead federal agency to TVA.