The cleanup tab for the December 22, 2008 coal ash spill in Kingston, TN is reportedly said to be as much as $825 million. In all, 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash burst from a containment pond operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority power plant.
Many homes and properties were destroyed from the sludge that broke through the levee and polluted waterways and wells on roughly 300 acres. Fish and other wildlife have died along the river and banks of the Emory River, prompting environmentalists to bring to light the threat of improper coal ash containment throughout the United States at more than 150 sites.
Coal ash is frequently dumped into abandoned mines and quickly infiltrates underground water supplies. The EPA estimates that coal ash has contaminated ground water in 24 states. Though coal ash is not considered hazardous yet, the sludge can destroy animal habitats and caused widespread distruction of the land around a spill site. Legislation towards coal ash containment ponds is quickly becoming a priority after being put on hold since a 2000 bid to label coal ash as a hazardous material.
Pictures of the TVA coal ash spill show widespread destruction that could take years to fully rebuild. Drinking water samples of the city’s water supply show normal levels, according to the EPA. Although drinking water is safe for the time being, slude samples near the spill show high levels of arsenic which could pose an airborn threat in the future if not fully resolved. This has been enough to cause some residents concern for their health, despite assurances the air is safe.