U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan has approved a settlement agreement in which the Tennessee Valley Authority (“TVA”) has agreed to pay $27.8 million to victims of a massive coal ash spill that decimated the area around the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in December 2008. This settlement comes on the heels of a 2012 ruling by Judge Varlan that TVA was liable for the spill, which occurred when a dike burst at a coal ash containment pond. The resulting deluge of more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge knocked homes from their foundations and contaminated the Emory and Clinch rivers. Beasley Allen lawyers Rhon Jones, who heads up the firm’s Toxic Torts section, and Grant Cofer are representing the Plaintiffs.
“This settlement represents the culmination of more than five years of litigation and negotiations,” says Mr. Jones, “and through this agreement, those who deserve it can receive compensation from TVA. This is important for every property owner impacted by this terrible tragedy.”
The final settlement agreement will allow more than 800 residents and property owners affected by the coal ash spill to hold TVA accountable for the impact to their way of life. Cleanup efforts continue even years after the spill, with total costs expected to exceed $1.2 billion. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described the spill as one of the worst environmental disasters of its kind. The TVA coal ash spill released more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge over 300 acres in East Tennessee within the course of minutes. It is estimated there is at least 500,000 cubic yards of coal ash still remaining on the bottoms of the Emory and Clinch rivers. Sludge from the coal ash containment pond contains toxic substances including arsenic, lead, mercury and other heavy metals.