Tennessee coal ash spill By Sarah and Miranda

What happened

In 2008 at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant a containment of more than 5 million cubic yards of ash spilled into a river that ruined hundreds of homes and acres of land. This dump contains things such as heavy metals like, lead, mercury, etc. These metals have toxins in them that are very dangerous to human health and water supplies.The industry was producing this harmful product because many companies use this to fill up mines, and even can use it for things like helping the soil. The company ended up paying 27.8 million in all for the victims who lost everything. Overall there where 800 victims who lost their houses to this disaster. There are no known causes that created the spill, because of that it makes it harder for people to clean up because they can't find the source.

Where and When it happened

The Tennessee Coal Ash spill occurred in December 22, 2008 at TVA’s Kingston coal plant. At 1am at TVA’s a coal plant an 84-acre pond of wet coal ash collapsed and a billion gallons of muddy gray ash poured into the Emory River which is along the Swan pond Road. All of the Toxic damage was poured everywhere across eastern Tennessee.

3-4 species that were directly impacted, how were they impacted

Mussels, Snails, River Otters, and muskrats were seriously affected and impacted by this spill and only some are still surviving.The ones that died, died because they were either buried by mud or stranded when the water pushed them into the fields and forests.The ones that survived were affected because their habitats were destroyed so was there food source to survive. Also the spill caused a disease from the chemicals in the coal and ash which caused the animals to die or leave their habitat.

What happened after the spill

  • People living near the ash spill where now at a higher risk for cancer and other diseases.
  • The government started to pay more attention to these types of situations they started inspecting different ash places.
  • 2 years later the environmental officials ordered a liner to fix the pond but then the leak was re-discovered on December 15 2010.
  • With rain being added into the mix it created 100,000 gallons of polluted water which spread to other locales.
  • The ash ended up damaging the area's water source.

How did they solve the problem?

  • Provided jobs for those who need some time to get back on their feet.
  • Started a flood control system throughout the city.
  • delivering jobs and cheap electricity, donated computers to schools, sponsored local charities, and built parks and playing field.
  • the soot from the plant had covered most of the cars so they made free car washes.
  • Made scrubbers to filter out sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which can lead to acid rain.
  • They got rid of most of the fly ash by putting it into storage silos and sending it off to landfills.

How could we avoid a situation like this in the future

We could avoid something like the Tennessee coal ash spill by moving those industries that create the coal and ash away from waterways like rivers and lakes. This will help because the coal and ash have toxins like arsenic, lead, and chromium which could contaminate the waterways with dangerous metals and we wouldn't have a good fresh water. Also many are trying to enforce clean water law so our water will not be contaminated at all. The main way to get the toxins from getting in the water is just moving them away from it so we can have fresh water to drink. Also we don't have to worry about how maybe it could happen again, where we could make it how it never happens again.


  1. "Disaster in Eastern Tennessee." Facing South, www.facingsouth.org/2010/05/disaster-in-east-tennessee.html.
  2. "Toxic Coal Ash Spill." National Geographic, news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/01/090123-coal-ash.html.
  3. "TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Coal Ash Spill." Source Watch, 24 Aug. 2012, www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/TVA_Kingston_Fossil_Plant_coal_ash_spill.
  4. TRAVIS L. Tennessee Valley Authority to pay $27.8 million to victims of 2008 Tennessee coal ash spill. Canadian Press, The [serial online]. n.d.;Available from: Newspaper Source Plus, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 10, 2017.
  5. Dewan, Shaila. "Hundreds of Coal Ash Dumps, with Virtually no Regulation." New York Times (New York, NY), 07 Jan, 2009, pp. A.1, SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.
Created By
Sarah Graven

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