Wednesday, February 11, 2009

TVA Ash Spill Prompts New Senate Hearing To Set New Standards on Thursday

A U.S. Senate sub-committee will hold hearings 10.a.m Thursday to address the lack of oversight and the need for new standards regarding coal ash impoundments, hearings prompted by the December 2008 TVA ash spill which has devastated hundreds of acres in Roane County.

The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing Thursday will focus on the Coal Ash Reclamation, Environment, and Safety Act of 2009 (H.R. 493).

It would require the Interior Department to set uniform design, engineering and inspection standards for structures like the one that ruptured at TVA's Kingston plant on Dec. 22, damaging homes, knocking down trees and power lines and filling two inlets of the Emory River.

The hearing be webcast live and archived on the Committee's Web site at" (via a report in The Tennessean)

Here's a list from the main committee's website of witnesses expected to appear:

Mr. John R. Craynon
Division of Regulatory Support
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Department of the Interior

Ms. Sandy Gruzesky
Division of Water
Department for Environmental Protection
State of Kentucky

Mr. Tom FitzGerald
Kentucky Resources Council

Mr. Davitt McAteer
Vice President for Sponsored Programs
CEO of the Center for Educational Technologies & National Technology Transfer Center
Wheeling Jesuit University

Mr. Nick Akins
Executive Vice President for Generation
American Electric Power Service Corporation

Tom Fitzgerald, as head of the Kentucky Resources Council, spoke before the National Academy of Sciences regarding Coal Combustion Waste in 2005, where he warned:

"What is known concerning the potential toxicity of the leachate from coal combustion ash suggests that a federal floor of management standards is needed.

It is a myth of dangerous proportion to suggest that there is no potential public health and environmental impact of improper management of coal combustion wastes because the wastes are not classified as “hazardous.”

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