New Questions About Coal Ash Safety - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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New Questions About Coal Ash Safety

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By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

Environmental groups released a new report claiming coal ash dump sites are contaminating drinking the water at sites across the country.

Three of the sites mentioned in the report are at TVA steam plants in Tennessee.

The report from the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club comes just days before the EPA is set to begin public hearings on whether to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste. 

The Tennessee plants mentioned in the report are the Gallatin Steam plant in Sumner County, the Johnsonville Steam Plant in Humphreys County and the Cumberland Plant in Stewart County. 

The report says readings from on-site monitoring wells show concentrations of arsenic and other heavy metals that exceed federal drinking water standards.

At the Gallatin plant, the highest readings came from beryllium and nickel. The plant has unlined coal ash ponds that could allow water from the ash pond to leach into the Cumberland River. 

The report says TVA's own monitoring wells near the Johnsonville ash pond indicate high levels of arsenic in the nearby groundwater. 

The Johnsonville ash pond sits in the Tennessee River. 

TVA is making plans to shut down the ash pond and go to dry ash storage.

And finally, the report says monitoring wells at the Cumberland Steam Plant in Stewart County reveal arsenic levels more than two times higher than the federal maximum contaminant level.

TVA has consistently said Coal Ash is not hazardous and does not pose a risk.  In an e-mailed response, TVA said, "This report is highly subjective, uses very select data and does not discuss the full breadth of the data that is reported to states on groundwater at TVA's fossil plant sites."  TVA's response goes on to say the study uses "misleading" criteria to "sensationalize conclusions." 

Email: bhall@newschannel5.com

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