TVA Coal Ash Disaster – December 22, 2008 - CBS News
CNN — A wall holding back 80 acres of sludge from a coal plant in central Tennessee broke this week, spilling more than 500 million gallons of waste into the surrounding area.
Environmental Protection Agency officials are on the scene and expect the cleanup to to take four to six weeks.
The sludge, a byproduct of ash from coal combustion, was contained at a retention site at the Tennessee Valley Authority's power plant in Kingston, about 40 miles east of Knoxville, agency officials said.
The retention wall breached early Monday, sending the sludge downhill and damaging 15 homes. All the residents were evacuated, and three homes were deemed uninhabitable, a TVA spokesman told CNN.
The plant sits on a tributary of the Tennessee River called the Clinch River.
"We deeply regret that a retention wall for ash containment at our Kingston Fossil Plant failed, resulting in an ash slide and damage to nearby homes," TVA said in a statement released Tuesday.
TVA spokesman Gil Francis told CNN that up to 400 acres of land had been coated by the sludge, a bigger area than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Video footage showed sludge as high as 6 feet, burying porches and garage doors. The slide also downed nearby power lines, though the TVA said power had been restored to the area.
Francis said Environmental Protection Agency officials were on the scene and estimated the cleanup could take four to six weeks.
via Fred First