TVA Coal Ash Spill Hearing

As reported in the Wall Street Journal today Congress will hold a hearing on the December 22, 2008,  coal ash spill from a retention pond operated by a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) electricity generating plant  near Kingston, Tennessee. A number of homes were damaged in the spill which covered 275 acres with 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash. It has been described as potentially the largest environmental disaster in the U.S. Today’s oversight hearing is before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Insurers are reported to have little exposure to the spill cleanup as noted in National Underwriter’s January 6 online article by Mark Ruquet. However, it is likely that legal action following the event will add to its cost. On December 30, 2008,  a group of landowners filed a lawsuit in a state court seeking $165 million from the TVA in damages related to the spill, for example. Environmental groups are calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to classify coal ash as a hazardous waste and for the immediate inspection and monitoring of all toxic coal ash storage and disposal units.

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