TVA passing costs of fallout of coal ash spill to MLGW customers, local official claims

WATCH: TVA passing costs of fallout of coal ash spill to MLGW customers, local official claims

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The largest utility company in the country – Tennessee Valley Authority – said it may be required to reimburse a contractor it hired to clean up a huge coal ash spill after a contractor was sued by workers.

That spill happened 11 years ago in East Tennessee, but the costs could be passed along to the ratepayers.

And that is because MLGW is TVA’s largest customer.

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TVA publicly acknowledged for the first time this week that it may be on the hook for legal fees after the coal ash spill in 2008.

The spill happened at their Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County. TVA contracted Jacobs Engineering Group to clean the ash, and they were later sued for putting workers’ lives at risk during the cleanup.

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Congressman Steve Cohen told FOX13 that TVA footing legal bills will only trickle down the financial burden to local households.

“They hired a company that had a terrible record due to overseeing cleanup of the coal ash,” Cohen said. “I don’t think they can be trusted. The TVA has shown they don’t regard public health.”

In TVA’s most recent quarterly report, it mentioned the company may be contractually obligated to reimburse Jacobs Engineering, though TVA was not named in the workers’ lawsuit against Jacobs.

Meanwhile, MLGW officials told FOX13 it is hard to tell what impact this could have on customers’ rates right now.

MLGW said it is looking at potential alternatives to TVA power, and it is not ruling out ending the 90-year partnership – but it could take time.

“If we decide something else is best for our customers, we have to provide a five-year notice so we can’t go anywhere in less than five years,” said Gale Jones Carson of MLGW.

TVA officials told FOX13 they are reviewing Cohen’s request.