HARRIMAN (WATE) – In the wake of the Gatlinburg fires, many wonder how an area will manage to rebuild, but eight years after the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Fossil Fuel spill, the land is finally beginning to heal.
The EPA has called the spill one of the worst environmental disasters ever. In the early morning hours of December 22, 2008 the north dike at the Kingston Fossil Plant collapsed, sending ash and sludge spewing onto nearby homes and farmlands in Harriman. Some of the debris also made its way into the Emory River.
The clean-up took several years. A major milestone was reached in December 2014 when TVA completed 240-acre permanent ash retention landfill. TVA finally wrapped up their portion of clean-up on April 22, 2015 and continues to monitor soil and water.Previous story:TVA says cleanup in Kingston is near complete, 6 years after ash spill
The first two years of cleanup after the 2008 spill required 24/7 operations of heavy equipment on the land and in the river. TVA said the sounds and lights from the equipment would disturb those who lived in the area, so TVA purchased the properties along Emory River Road. In 2015, TVA auctioned Kingston 62 properties bought during the ash spill cleanup.
“We all know this incident shouldn’t have happened,” said TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson, who visited the recovery site on December 17 2015. “But we have learned from it and we are fulfilling our commitment to making it right.”
In 2014 the first national standard for coal waste was set after the spill.