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Community to hear final plan to clean up ash spill

Thursday - 11/8/2012, 8:51pm  ET

KINGSTON, Tenn. - Residents affected by the disastrous 2008 coal ash spill in Roane County will have their say about a plan to stop further cleanup of toxin-laden sludge in the Clinch and lower Emory rivers.

An estimated 500,000 cubic yards of sludge is what remains in the rivers after a containment dike at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant burst in 2008, spilling 5.4 million cubic yards of ash.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports ( http://bit.ly/SEr2Y5) the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday approved TVA's preferred plan, which calls for 30 years of monitoring at a cost of about $10 million. It was the cheapest of three possible plans.

Community members will discuss the monitoring plan with representatives from TVA, the EPA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation at a meeting at Roane County High School on Thursday evening.

A second option called for capping the river bottoms with a 6-inch layer of rocks at a cost of up to $44.8 million, and a third was to dredge the river deposits at a cost of up to $179.1 million.

Craig Zeller, EPA remedial project manager on the Kingston cleanup, said that monitoring has the advantage of not stirring up more contaminants from the river bottom.

An ecological risk assessment found leaving the sludge in place poses a moderate risk to mayflies and snails and a low risk to the birds that feed on them.

The TVA monitoring plan includes analyzing mayfly and snail samples. TVA also will collect sediment samples, monitor the rate of sediment movement and monitor ground water.

A citizen's group established as a liaison between TVA and the community generally supports the plan.

"We don't want anything done that is going to stir up a lot of debris and bring more traffic and more construction," said Joni Morgan, chair of the Roane County Community Advisory Group. "We've had to contend with that for several years now."

Morgan said TVA has done a great job of cleaning up, but there is still more to be done.

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Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)