Kingston marks five year anniversary of TVA ash spill

Kingston marks five year anniversary of TVA ash spill

Posted:
On the fifth anniversary, much of the ash has since been removed, but total cleanup of the area is still more than a year away from completion. On the fifth anniversary, much of the ash has since been removed, but total cleanup of the area is still more than a year away from completion.
Back in 2008, a dike failed at TVA's fossil plant in Kingston, leaving hundreds of acres of surrounding land and water covered with coal ash. Back in 2008, a dike failed at TVA's fossil plant in Kingston, leaving hundreds of acres of surrounding land and water covered with coal ash.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) - Sunday marks five years since the massive TVA ash spill in Roane County.

Back in 2008, a dike failed at TVA's fossil plant in Kingston, leaving hundreds of acres of surrounding land and water covered with coal ash.

On the fifth anniversary, much of the ash has since been removed, but total cleanup of the area is still more than a year away from completion.

On December 22, 2008, more than five million cubic yards of coal ash went pouring, after a holding pond at TVA's Kingston plant collapsed.

The ash spilled into more than 300 acres of the Emory River and surrounding lands.

"It was a shock to everyone," said Kingston resident Pete Malmquist.

"Very startling when we got over there. It was several days before we were able to really look and see what the enormity of it really was," said Kingston Mayor Troy Beets.

TVA crews have worked virtually round the clock since that day, cleaning up the mess.

Back in June, they completed excavation of ash from the site.

"We're trying to honor our commitment that we made shortly after the spill to restore the area to as good or better than it was," said TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks.

Some remaining ash will now be permanently stored on the site, surrounded by an new reinforced wall anchored 70 feet deep into bedrock.

"We're topping that with soil and clay and it will be a grassy area pretty much. 240 acres of grass," said Brooks.

Mayor Beets says the ash spill was devastating to Kingston, and that his community is glad to see TVA honoring it's promise to make it right.

"They've done a tremendous job with what they've gotten finished so far," said Beets.

He says every year, Kingston continues to move further past the disaster.

"I would hope that in two years, when people hear Kingston, Tennessee, they don't associate it with an ash spill," said Beets.

As part of the cleanup project, TVA will continue monitoring water quality in the river system and will also build a number of recreation areas for public use.

"What TVA is doing is we're going to have soccer fields and ball fields and fishing piers and walking trails that weren't there before," said Malmquist.

TVA says while they've made a lot of headway in the five years since the spill, the recovery project is still far from over.

The project is slated be complete by early 2015, coming in at a cost of just more than $1 billion.

TVA says it will receive another 150 million dollars from an insurance company to help pay for the ongoing cleanup project.

Mayor Beets says the Roane County Economic Foundation has set aside $1 million to be used toward public image repair for the city of Kingston.

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