Tue
Dec 30 2008
07:14 pm

Citing environmental and public health concerns surrounding the Kingston Steam Plant coal ash spill, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has served notice to TVA that they intend to bring legal action.

Stephen Smith of the SACE says "We have been frustrated by TVA’s public statements minimizing the seriousness of this massive release and withholding information. These actions have lead to a loss of confidence in the utility’s decisions, which currently have the potential to risk human health. If legal action is the means necessary to ensure that TVA is open and transparent about this disaster moving forward, then we will use it."

Full SACE statement after the jump...

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Knoxville, Tenn. (Tuesday, December 30) – Today Southern Alliance for Clean Energy served notice to the Tennessee Valley Authority of its intent to bring legal action against TVA under the federal Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for the health and environmental impacts caused by the coal ash release.

"This is a tragic situation that has brought devastating environmental damage and carries with it potential for serious human health impacts," said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director for the alliance. "With this action we are signaling our intent to use all legal means to assure that TVA is required to fully clean this mess up and take responsible actions to ensure that it never happens again."

The Clean Water Act citizen suit notice focuses on the illegal discharge of millions of gallons of coal ash slurry into the Emory and Clinch Rivers and the resulting degradation of the quality of the waters for designated uses, such as public water supply, fish and aquatic life, and recreation. The Clean Water Act requires a sixty-day notice before a citizen can file suit against a polluter in federal court.

The RCRA citizen suit notice is based on the "imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment" that may have been created by the coal ash release into the surrounding community and the two rivers. Exposure to the toxic metals in coal ash, including cancer-causing arsenic, is the chief concern, and the ninety-day notice required by RCRA states that the lawsuit will seek a judicial order requiring full cleanup of the coal ash and other measures to protect the health of the community and the environment.

The notices were sent on behalf of SACE by environmental attorney Gary Davis.

"We truly hope that TVA, EPA and the State act aggressively in cleaning up this massive pollution and addressing the serious health concerns in an open public process with full community participation," Davis said. "These citizen suit notices do not commit SACE to filing suit, but we will do so if we do not see this type of serious response from the agencies within the time periods of the notices."

SACE urges citizens to consult a heavy metal fact sheet and additional information found at (link...) to learn more about the potential consequences of this disaster.

"We have been frustrated by TVA’s public statements minimizing the seriousness of this massive release and withholding information,” said Dr. Smith. "These actions have lead to a loss of confidence in the utility’s decisions, which currently have the potential to risk human health. If legal action is the means necessary to ensure that TVA is open and transparent about this disaster moving forward, then we will use it."

Read more SACE coverage of the disaster here.

SCOTT SUMMIT's picture

TVA coal sludge crisis

T.V.A. has destroyed this land. The only realistic solution to this problem is to create a new public landfill in this riverbed.

(link...)

Tess's picture

let me know where to send the money

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Where do I send the check?

In addition to obvious incompetence, TVA has shown incredible arrogance in the handling of this disaster.

smalc's picture

The Clean Water Act requires

The Clean Water Act requires a sixty-day notice before a citizen can file suit against a polluter in federal court.

Can a fed gov agency be sued? I have always heard that they must first agree to be sued, but that may be a myth.

Justin's picture

Per Wiki answers: Generally,

Per Wiki answers:

Generally, a sovereign government cannot be sued unless it allows itself to be sued. In the United States, Congress has passed the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allowing the U.S. government to be sued for the tortious negligence of its employees that causes personal injury or property damage.

Prior to bringing a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, it is required that a written claim be presented to the offending government agency. After the written claim is presented, six months must pass before a lawsuit may be filed in United States District Court. If the claim is denied in writing by the agency, the claimant must file suit within six months of the date of denial.

Tess's picture

My sister says no

My sister, who is a risk manager, says the feds cannot be sued, or if you do you will not win, but what does she know? It wouldn't hurt to try a class action one. (I have noticed several attorneys trolling around with ads, so maybe it is possible.)

Sarah Helton's picture

Isn't Southern Alliance an

Isn't Southern Alliance an extremist environmentalist group? Shouldn't Southern Environmental Law Center or NRDC be doing this kind of thing?

rikki's picture

Isn't Southern Alliance an

Isn't Southern Alliance an extremist environmentalist group?

Yes, they have dozens of employees, offices in five states, seven figure annual budgets, a twenty year history and cordial relationships with city, state and federal governments, universities and research institutions because they are extremists. Someday perhaps they will go mainstream and start blowing the tops off mountains and poisoning streams for a quick buck.

gonzone's picture

heh

Great response rikki.

"If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?"

EricLykins's picture

ZING!

I enthusiastically second what gonzone said. Very nice.

Speaking of SACE, since Congress goes back to work us over Tuesday, SACE has also put that weak ass climate bill on notice, saying that the impact of the renewable electricity standard on U.S. renewable electricity generation will be "effectively zero."

Fight. Smash. Win.

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