NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new report by an environmental group says the Tennessee Valley Authority has polluted groundwater supplies at all its coal-fired power plants nearly five years after a massive coal ash spill at its Kingston power plant.

The report by the Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project says TVA could be doing more to protect drinking water supplies from harmful substances. The ash is a byproduct of burning coal at power plants, and the EPA is currently considering whether to classify it as a hazardous material.

The group’s report was based on data from TVA monitoring wells, The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1hSNs6m ) reports.

“As we come up on the fifth anniversary of the Kingston spill, we were disappointed to find evidence of really pretty serious groundwater contamination at all of TVA’s 11 coal plants,” Environmental Integrity Project Director Eric Schaeffer said.

The spill at TVA’s Kingston plant in 2008 leaked 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash into local waterways and more than 300 acres of land. The spill prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to propose rules in 2010 that would treat coal ash in landfills and other storage areas as hazardous material. The EPA has yet to finalize the rule.

TVA said in a statement it was moving aggressively to prevent future damage to water supplies from coal ash and has shown a commitment to a cleaner environment by retiring older fossil fuel plants and converting wet ash storage to dry ash storage.

The report identified arsenic, boron, cobalt, manganese and sulfate as toxic pollutants. It said the pollutants come from burning coal and storing coal ash waste in ponds or landfills surrounding TVA’s 11 power plants in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.

“The records show patchwork monitoring, and no real effort to contain the damage at these sites,” Schaeffer said in a conference call. “TVA needs a comprehensive plan to monitor and clean up the groundwater contamination caused by years of slipshod disposal practices.”

The new report’s findings are similar to the results of a 2011 investigation by TVA’s Office of Inspector General. That report found groundwater contamination from coal ash at nine TVA coal-fired power plants.

At TVA’s Gallatin Fossil Plant, the closest coal-fired power plant to Nashville, groundwater wells on the site from 2008 to 2013 had average concentrations of boron, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum and sulfate above accepted levels, according to the report. Pollution at the Cumberland Fossil Plant in Cumberland City had high concentrations of those same pollutants, as well as arsenic.

Courtesy: mySA

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