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TVA reparations money may be coming to Roane

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By The Staff

By CINDY SIMPSON

csimpson@roanecounty.com

TVA money could soon be flowing into Roane County.

The TVA board of directors last week authorized CEO Tom Kilgore to begin the process of allotting monies to Roane County as a response to the fly ash spill at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant.

The county’s major cities, communities and other entities are to receive money in the allotment.

Besides the brief discussion of this substantial move, the public was also updated on the spill’s cleanup effort and a time frame.

TVA chief financial officer Kim Greene said the latest cleanup cost estimate is between $933 million and $1.2 billion.

She brought up the issue of the cost during discussions of TVA’s grim financial outlook in wake of the economic downturn and decrease in sales.

“By the time Dec. 22 hit us, things had already started to look grim,” she said.

That was the date late last year when 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash rolled across land and into the Emory River after a dike gave way at the Kingston Fossil Plant.

The dredging portion of the cleanup is going faster, Kilgore said. That’s due to the addition of two aquatic dredges, one of which began operating last Tuesday.

With those additional dredges, TVA has been able to more than double its dredging capacity.

The project has been split into time critical and non-critical areas, said Anda Ray, TVA senior vice president of the Office of Environment and Research.

According to one slide, the time-critical area, which focuses mainly on getting the ash out of the river, should be completed in the next 18 months.

Officials said they are on track to have the river ash removed by spring 2010. Ray said that needs to be completed as soon as possible, particularly because of the potential spring rains would cause the ash to migrate further downstream.

Train cars have shipped 300,000 tons of the half million tons of ash remaining in the river, according to officials. That ash is going to a landfill in Alabama.

Thousands of samplings have been taken. They include 93,000 air samples, 2,300 water samples, 140 ash and soil samples. Extensive insect, fish, reptile, mammal and bird samples were sent to independent labs, many split with universities and state agencies.

Officials said both air and  drinking water samples met standards.

While much has been done, Ray stressed the need to continue being a presence.

“We need to reach out to them to address their needs, their concerns, their questions,” Ray said.

Discussions also centered around what TVA has done thus far in Roane County, including the purchase of 140 tracts of land from property owners impacted by the spill or cleanup effort, the opportunity for concerned residents to get assessed by nationally recognized toxicologists and $20 million TVA has spent thus far in the county on goods and services.