Fifty-five years worth of coal ash waste adds up – to over two billion gallons. And that is what is stored in several coal ash ponds surrounding Tennessee Valley Authorities’ (TVA) Gallatin coal fired power plant. For decades, these ponds have been leaking toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater, threatening public health. Many area residents and environmental groups blame this on The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s (TDEC) weak and unenforced standards.
A recent investigation revealed that TVA wanted TDEC to step in to file a lawsuit, in order to block environmental organizations from doing so. With TDEC’s track record of inaction, it’s not hard to see why. In a score for TVA, this lawsuit moves the case out of federal court, and into state court, where fines are lower -$10,000 per day. In federal court, the fines per day could have been up to $37,500.
If this tactic sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Just last year, an investigation found a series of internal emails between Duke Energy and NC state regulators in communication after environmental groups threatened to sue in January of 2013. The state stepped in to sue, halting these attempts. Less than a month later, a Duke Energy plant in Eden, NC spilled millions of gallons of coal ash into the Dan River.
Now Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), The Tennessee Sierra Club, Climate Nashville, Ecogal – The Curious Consumer, and Physicians for Social Responsibility have joined with Working Films to bring Coal Ash Stories to Gallatin. The event will offer information and engage local residents in conversation and action to address the continuing impact of TVA’s coal ash landfill, the recent lawsuit filed by the state against TVA, and what it means for the future of the Gallatin community.
This event follows a similar community forum held in Kingston in February. That event resulted in on-going, open discussion with TDEC, and opened the door for Kingston community members to have a say in how TDEC approaches future public hearings and comment periods on the TVA coal ash issues affecting them.
The Gallatin event will be held in The Palace Theater on March 25th and begin at 6:30pm CST. Admission is free and open to the public.