TVA opens community park at Kingston ash spill site

TVA opens community park at Kingston ash spill site

Posted:
The new park is on Lakeshore Drive right across the water from the TVA plant. The new park is on Lakeshore Drive right across the water from the TVA plant.
TVA has turned the neighborhood into Lakeshore Park with walking trails, fishing piers, and picnic areas. TVA has turned the neighborhood into Lakeshore Park with walking trails, fishing piers, and picnic areas.
Franklin E. Hill with the EPA says the water at Lakeshore Park is clean enough to fish and swim in, and continuous monitoring finds the air quality is good as well. Franklin E. Hill with the EPA says the water at Lakeshore Park is clean enough to fish and swim in, and continuous monitoring finds the air quality is good as well.
By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) - A new community park opened in Roane County Friday at the site of the 2008 massive coal ash spill. The disaster happened at the TVA Kingston fossil plant almost five and a half years ago.

Extended coverage: TVA Coal Ash Spill

The new park is on Lakeshore Drive right across the water from the TVA plant.

Tommy charles and his wife Carolyn are celebrating their 50th anniversary of living on the banks of the Emory River.

"I love this place. It's home," Tommy said.

Their house is the last one standing on Lakeshore Drive. TVA bought up all of the ash-affected property around them, but Tommy wouldn't sell.

"We didn't have a clue where we'd go, so we decided to stay," he said.

TVA has turned the neighborhood into Lakeshore Park with walking trails, fishing piers, and picnic areas.

"Compared to what it was on December 22, 2008, it's quite a good feeling they've made this much progress," said Kingston Mayor Troy Beets. "Anybody who doubts what hard work and perseverance can do needs to come and see what has been done here."
 
After the spill, TVA promised to make the community whole again. Beets says they're about 90 percent done and the park is big step.

"This helps show Kingston is a nice place to live, work, play and retire," Beets said.

"Five and a half years seems like a long time, but you're talking about a lot of ash that had to get out of the river," said TVA project manager Carol Eimers.

All of that work comes at a cost of more than a billion dollars. Eimers says that breaks down to about $124 from each of the utility's roughly 8 million electric customers, or 69 cents more on your bill each month for 15 years.

"It's unfortunate, but it had to get done. You had to spend the money in order to clean it up and make it right," Eimers said. "We'll never make everybody 100 percent whole. You never do after something like this, but TVA is doing all that it can to move forward."

Franklin E. Hill with the EPA says the water at Lakeshore Park is clean enough to fish and swim in, and continuous monitoring finds the air quality is good as well.

The coal ash clean-up is supposed to be finished at the end of this year. More recreation areas are planned for completion next year.

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