EPA says progress has been made in Roane Co. ash spill cleanup

EPA says progress has been made in Roane County ash spill cleanup

Posted:
The spill in 2008 was considered one of the worst environmental disasters in the area's history. The spill in 2008 was considered one of the worst environmental disasters in the area's history.
"We lost parks because of the event," Roane County environmental review board chair Mary Anne Koltowich said. "We lost parks because of the event," Roane County environmental review board chair Mary Anne Koltowich said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) - The message of Thursday night's meeting at Roane County High School was a positive one, with the Environmental Protection Agency telling the public cleanup efforts for the coal ash spill have come a long way.

The EPA said it's the first time in the four-and-a-half year effort that the agency is able to start planning for the process after the cleanup, which includes a long-term monitoring plan.

"For the first time, we kind of see a light at the end of the tunnel," remedial project manager for the EPA, Craig Zeller, said. "We see things starting to complete. We see things that have been active for four-and-a-half years and we actually see them out there and some of these components are going to be done."

A spokesperson for TVA said it bought about 180 properties following the spill and gave around $43 million to Roane County.

Roane County leaders invested around $32 million of that money into the school system.

But residents said that while progress is being made, the recovery period is not over.

"We lost parks because of the event," Roane County environmental review board chair Mary Anne Koltowich said.

Koltowich said she is pleased with the EPA's success in restoring the land and rivers.

Zeller said the agency will be done excavating by the end of June and said the EPA is about 85 percent done with the wall perimeter stabilization, which is meant to prevent future failures.

Koltowich said while this is all much needed progress, more still needs to be done to help local homeowners.

"We need to try to help those concerns with the landowners particularly on the lakes are concerned for their property taxes," Koltowich said. "I feel like they might be too high because the value of their property has gone down."

Zeller said the EPA is expecting the cleanup effort to last about another year-and-a-half before beginning the long-term monitoring process.

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