Beasley Allen files coal ash spill class action lawsuit on behalf of residents and property owners affected by disaster

Kingston TN TVA site Satellite photograph Beasley Allen files coal ash spill class action lawsuit
Satellite Photograph of Kingston, TN TVA Facility

Montgomery, Ala. – Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., has filed a class action lawsuit (3:09-cv-00009) on behalf of property owners damaged by the Dec. 22, 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant. Located 40 miles west of Knoxville, Tenn., the plant released 1.1 billion gallons of toxin-laden sludge into a rural neighborhood when a waste storage pond retaining wall failed. The suit is filed against the TVA, the nation’s largest public utility, over potentially the most significant environmental disaster since the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Beasley Allen will be working with attorneys Gary Davis and Mary Parker in Tennessee, both of whom have Environmental experience. Beasley Allen has its own Environmental department to handle cases such as this disaster. The firm has handled previous environmental claims including a $700 million settlement with Monsanto/Solutia in Anniston, Ala., over PCB contamination, the largest private environmental settlement in American history. More recently, Beasley Allen obtained a $20.7 million verdict against manufacturers of carbon black for nearby property owners, a verdict that was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

Coal-fired power plants produce coal ash and other toxic waste byproducts. The material is usually stored on site in retention ponds or dams. A failure in the retaining wall, or an overflow, can result in an environmental disaster contaminating surrounding waterways, soil, and wildlife, and endangering human health and life.

There is ongoing debate about how coal ash is stored and regulated. Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate these types of retention ponds or the materials contained in them. Surprisingly, the EPA does not consider the coal ash hazardous material. There is a great deal of debate over whether state regulations are sufficient to regulate these retention ponds, as evidenced by this most recent disaster.

“It is absolutely incredible that there is no real oversight for the storage and safe disposal of this toxic waste,” said Beasley Allen attorney Rhon Jones, who specializes in Environmental issues. “Most of these retention ponds are not lined or reinforced, and it’s inevitable that potentially hazardous material will leak out. They just are not a long-term solution. It’s only a matter of time before the next disaster. These facilities are everywhere – Alabama, Tennessee. Communities are living under a cloud, uncertain of their safety.”

There is a U.S. Senate hearing set for Jan. 8 to review the Tennessee disaster that will include representatives from the TVA and environmental groups. Beasley Allen attorneys have contacted Congressional leaders offering to speak at the hearings, and lawyers from the Beasley Allen team will be present in Washington.

Beasley Allen has set up a special website to track the coal ash spill.

The class action complaint is available online.

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