TVA spokesman Gil Francis says the mixture of ash and water contained no hazardous materials.
TVA is lying. This report on combustion waste from coal fired power plants says fly ash (assuming that's what this is) contains mercury, arsenic, and other toxic heavy metals such as beryllium and cadmium. If it's a holding pond for byproducts from washing coal prior to combustion it has even more toxic stuff.
Unfortunately, from what I understand it's all largely unregulated, the EPA does not consider it "hazardous" (which I guess gives TVA cover) and even promotes recycling it to make concrete.
UPDATE: A timely press release today from the Environmental Integrity Project:
Fearing even more pollution of precious water supplies with toxic chemicals under a pending Office of Surface Mining (OSM) rule proposal, 39 environmental and grassroots groups are urging President-Elect Barack Obama to protect Americans by imposing meaningful federal regulation of coal combustion waste (CCW). Coal-fired power plants produce approximately 129 million tons of waste per year, making CCW the second largest industrial waste source in the US.
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