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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

December 22, 2009

Virginia Cramer, 804-519-8449
TVA Coal Ash Spill Anniversary
120+ Groups Sign On to Ad Seeking Federal Coal Ash Safeguards
One year ago, coal's toxic legacy was thrust into the national spotlight after a dam at Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Kingston coal plant failed in Harriman, TN, spilling more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash-- waste produced from burning coal for electricity-- onto nearby communities. The residents continue to deal with the harmful impacts of the spill to their property and health as the cleanup continues a year later. Recent estimates suggest that the full clean-up will not be complete until 2013 and will cost over $1 billion.

To mark the anniversary of the TVA disaster, and to urge Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to do everything within her power to prevent such disasters in the future, the Sierra Club and more than 120 other environmental, citizen and faith groups signed on to a full-page ad running in today's Washington Post. See the ad here.

On the anniversary Mary Anne Hitt, Deputy Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign issued the following statement.

"Our thoughts today are with those who are still living with the terrible consequences of this massive disaster — one that could have been prevented if adequate federal protections were in place. There are hundreds more coal ash sites nationwide whose failure may lead to an even greater disaster than happened last December in Tennessee. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson can help communities across the country by adopting strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash before the situation gets any worse.

"The arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium that Harriman residents have been exposed to, and the millions of dollars spent so far on clean up, remind us that coal is not clean, or cheap. The ongoing tragedy in Tennessee is the sad result of inadequate and inconsistent national standards for protecting communities, as well as regulatory loopholes that allow the coal industry to avoid taking responsibility for its waste."

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