TVA and the Environmental Protection Agency met with Roane County residents Tuesday afternoon to update them about the progress of cleanup at the Kingston TVA coal ash spill.
In December 2008, one billion gallons of sludge spilled from a collection pond at the site.
More than 350 TVA employees are building a wall to contain the coal ash in a landfill near the Emory River so that does not happen again. The agency is also cleaning up the middle portion of that waterway.
"That's the last area where ash was still in the water body," said TVA Project Manager Kathryn Nash.
According to the EPA, there is still 510,000 cubic yards, or more than 100 million gallons, of coal ash laying on river beds.
It has is considering three options to remove that ash from the area, said EPA Project Manager Craig Zeller.
The EPA could let nature take its course and let sediment mix with coal ash to dilute any chemical related risks. Zeller also said the EPA could cap certain areas of the affected riverbeds with gravel to keep the ash where it is.
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He said the last option on the table would call for more dredging, which could possibly kick up radioactive cesium in the water that came from nearby Oak Ridge.
"That's probably one of the least desirable options," said Roane County Executive Ron Woody.
Dredging would also cost anywhere between 83 and 179 million dollars. It is the most expensive of the three options.
Zeller did say the local ecosystem is making a comeback. The EPA official said fish and bug populations in the Emory and Clinch rivers are as plentiful as they are in waterways that were not affected by the spill.
However, he does point out East Tennesseans should not eat fish from those waterways because of a mercury advisory that was put into effect for the rivers before the spill occurred.
"Other than that recreate, enjoy the beautiful resource," Zeller said.
The EPA said it will decide which of the three options it chooses after a public comment section closes September 10. If you would like to let EPA which one of the options you prefer, you can let it know via email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail:
TVA P.O. Box 40
Kingston, TN 37763-0400