March 16, 2009
State Senate approves legislation calling for safe
storage of coal fly ash
(NASHVILLE, TN), March 16, 2009 –– The full Senate voted 33 to 0 Monday night to approve legislation sponsored by Senator Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville), Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman) and Rep. Joe McCord (R-Maryville) that would prohibit the issuance of permits for the storage of coal fly ash in landfills unless they contain a liner for protection of groundwater and are capped properly. The bill, SB 1559, requires the state’s Department of Conservation and Environment (TDEC) to only issue a permit or request for expansion of an existing landfill if it meets those requirements for the storage of the coal by-product.
“There are a lot of unknowns about the long term effects of coal fly ash” said Senator Yager, who represents Roane County, the site of a massive coal ash spill on December 22, 2008. “The long term effect on the public health from fly ash leacheate and airborne particles is unknown. It is imperative that we take these precautions to protect our community’s health. This legislation would give TDEC the tools they need to make sure that it is stored properly in the future.”
The Roane County coal ash spill released more than 5.4 million cubic yards of ash into the river from an on-site lagoon, also referred to as a holding pond, at the Kingston Fossil Plant. Fly ash is a fine, glass-like powder recovered from gases created by coal-fired electric power generation. The ash contains arsenic, which means it must be treated as a “hazardous substance” as it is moved from the Kingston site to a landfill. Engineers are working to prepare the comprehensive plan to remove the sludge from the Kingston spill, which is expected to cost TVA between $525 to $825 million.
“We have to look at what we can learn from this incident to prevent a future accident from occurring and this bill is a huge first step.”
The bill is pending action in the State Government Subcommittee in the House of Representatives.