Activists work to stop plan to move coal ash to Memphis landfill

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Environmental activists and organizations continue their fight against the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to move 3 million tons of coal ash from the Allen Fossil Plant to the Shelby County landfill in Capleville.

Activists argue the coal ash should be taken outside of Shelby County instead.

“Do they realize how that would affect us? I guess they don’t. They really don’t care, you know,” said resident Sheryl Batten.

Batten has lived near the Shelby County landfill in Capleville for 35 years.

She’s worried about the TVA’s 9-year plan to bring 3 million tons of coal ash from the Allen Fossil plant to a location close to her home.

“That’s hazardous to your health. I guess they want to do what they want to do, whenever they want to do it,” said Batten. “Neighborhoods where there are a lot of African Americans, they do stuff like that.”

Environmental activists like Justin J. Pearson are also unhappy.

He’s the Memphis Community Against Pollution president and is worried this plan will put black and brown communities at risk.

Pearson and several other leaders sent the TVA a letter asking for an environmental impact study which will show how the coal ash will impact the surrounding area, especially since trucks will be transporting it to the landfill.

The letter also questions why there is a lack of community input.

“When he creates, when they create a sense of urgency, and they give us a lack of information or participation in the process meaningfully, it leads to the exploitation of the communities that have been harmed systematically over the years,” said Pearson.

FOX13 reached out to the TVA.

A spokesperson said the TVA has given the public plenty of opportunities to comment and ask questions about the process. It is now pausing its plan to make sure everyone is informed, but the spokesperson said that doesn’t mean the plan won’t move forward.

The TVA spokesperson said the company also worked with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation during its decision-making and decided the Shelby County landfill is the quickest and safest place to dump the coal ash.

On its website, the TVA said it uses special trucks with covers to prevent dust from spreading while transporting the coal ash. It said those trucks are using a 19-mile route on the main roads and highways to the landfill.

Still, people who live nearby, like Sheryl, are concerned about the future,

“I’m against that, period, you know because that’s hazardous. It really is,” said Batten.

Pearson also questions why the TVA did not choose a company to transport the coal ash by rail and take half the time as its current project.

A TVA spokesperson said it’s because the company is not qualified to move the coal ash.

To learn more about the TVA project, CLICK HERE.