Environmentalist arrested at ash spill site

Environmentalist arrested at ash spill site


6 News Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) -- A local environmentalist says he was wrongly arrested by TVA police near the ash spill site Thursday. TVA officials argue otherwise.

Gil Francis, a TVA spokesman, says access to Swan Pond Road was heavily damaged by the ash spill and is restricted because they do not want anyone hurt. It is a matter of public safety.

Matt Landon, a volunteer with United Mountain Defense, is accused of driving by a TVA police post without stopping. Police later tracked him down outside the home of an elderly woman whom he says he was driving home from a community meeting.

Minutes later Matt Landon has been charged with trespass by a motor vehicle, restricted access, and traffic control device.

Francis says he did not have a tag given to residents living in the area that would allow him to be there and if he had stopped at the stop sign they would have escorted him into the area and back out.

The arrest was posted on YouTube.

Bonnie Swinford, a United Mountain Defense spokesman, calls the charges frivolous and offered 6 News a prepared statement:

"Over the last month, we have seen a pattern of harassment by the TVA police force. This culminated last night in the arrest of United Mountain Defense volunteer, Matt Landon, on what we believe to be frivolous charges. The arrest took place only a day after TVA detained UMD volunteers for several hours while they attempted to install an independent air monitoring system on private property with the resident's express permission. We believe Landon's arrest was a punitive response to UMD's efforts to ensure the safety of the community. We're working to post bail and intend to contest all charges against him."

As of Friday night, Matt Landon remains in the Roane County Jail.

Francis says he had been asked to leave the restricted area near the spill multiple times in recent weeks.

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