More than five years and $1 billion after a catastrophic coal ash spill in Kingston, the Tennessee Valley Authority says it has finally contained the spill.
The TVA recently completed a 12-mile, four-foot-wide underground retaining wall to surround 240 acres of toxic coal ash. The wall was needed in December 2008, when a dike at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant failed, sending sent 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash into the Emory and Clinch rivers, polluting the water, destroying three homes and damaging dozens of other homes.
The TVA says their new containment system, which used more than 200,000 tons of cement and other materials, is earthquake resistant. It is expected to be capped off by the end of the year, where they hope to plant grass.
Part of what made cleanup so difficult was a mixing of the coal ash with radioactive pollution from the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation, making it impossible to remove.
The TVA has already spent at least $1 billion to clean up the spill and restore the area. Up to an additional $1 billion could be spent to finish the clean-up there and to better secure other coal ash storage sites in Tennessee.
The new statewide coal ash security measures are expected to be complete by December 2022.