TVA becomes latest target of SELC litigation over coal ash

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) said April 14 that it has filed suit in federal court on behalf of the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association (TSRA) and the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), over coal ash pollution from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Gallatin power plant.

The suit was filed April 14 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, according to SELC Senior Attorney Beth A. Alexander.

SELC claims that Gallatin coal ash hurts surrounding waterways, including the Cumberland River and Old Hickory Lake upstream from Nashville, Tenn.

SELC threatened to sue over the Gallatin coal ash site back in November. SELC recently also sued Dominion (NYSE:D) over coal ash-related pollution from a power plant in Virginia.

Last November, the conservation groups filed a notice of intent to file a citizens’ suit against TVA for violations of the Clean Water Act. In response to the notice, the State of Tennessee brought a civil enforcement action under Tennessee law against TVA claiming that TVA has violated the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act and the Tennessee Solid Waste Disposal Act, SELC said.

“We want to ensure that TVA stops its ongoing pollution of the Cumberland River and Old Hickory Lake and move the toxic coal ash to a safer location away from waterways,” said Anne Davis, SELC managing attorney. “Over 1 million people in the Nashville area depend on the Cumberland River for clean drinking water. TVA’s continued illegal discharge of toxins and its failure to clean up the decades of prior contamination puts our communities at risk,” Davis said.

The groups contend that Gallatin’s coal ash ponds located adjacent to the Cumberland River hold over 55 years of coal ash waste in unlined, unprotected pits.

Coal ash has been an issue of increased interest for regulators and citizen groups since the December 2008 coal ash slurry spill that occurred at the TVA Kingston coal plant site in Roane County, Tenn.

As for Gallatin, TVA plans to install scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment at the coal plant s added by the end of 2017 at the coal plant in Sumner County, Tenn.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at