Lawmakers want TVA to expedite clean-up of toxic coal ash in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Federal and state lawmakers are calling on the Tennessee Valley Authority to expedite its efforts to clean-up the toxic coal ash in Memphis.

TVA said there are nearly three million cubic yards of coal ash still sitting at the site on President’s Island.

State Senator Brian Kelsey introduced a resolution on Wednesday urging TVA to do more to make ensure the city’s drinking water is protected since there are some toxins near the site that threaten the water supply.

U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen said he met with TVA officials on March 13 and in a letter released this week, he said he’s still concerned about the timeline for the clean-up.

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Wade Archer with Protect Our Aquifer believes TVA needs an expert on the ground to coordinate the removal process.

“They wake up in the morning and all they think about is how can I get rid of the coal ash, and they need to work to expedite the process because there is a lot of red tape – a lot of government agencies to go through,” he said.

TVA officials said they’re working on a plan to remove the coal ash, but the timeline is based on a series of variables.

“Where do we put it? How do we get it there? How much can we recycle? There’s still a lot of questions to be answered and timeline will depend on those answers,” said Scott Brooks, TVA’s environment expert.

Brooks said TVA spent the last two years researching and monitoring the arsenic levels at the site.

“We know there is no threat to drinking water. We’ve done multiple tests. MLGW has done multiple tests. We know the drinking water is safe,” said Brooks.

TVA officials said it can take as long as 15 to 20 years to remove toxins like arsenic.