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The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will be required to pay $11.5 million in fines as a result of a December 2008 coal ash spill at its Kingston, Tennessee coal-fired power plant. The fine was levied by the Gennessee Department of Environment and Conservation after the agency determined the TVA is guilty of violating state clean-water and solid waste disposal laws.

The Dec. 22, 2008, spill dumped about a billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge on the Kingston community, located about 35 miles west of Knoxville, spreading across more than 300 acres of land and contaminating the adjacent Emory River.

The fine comes on the heels of a long-awaited proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish guidelines for the storage of toxic coal ash. On May 4, the EPA proposed two different ideas to regulate coal ash storage under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The first would regulate coal ash as a “special waste” and would require the phasing out of wet storage at impoundment ponds. The second proposal would allow for on-site storage of coal ash, but containment ponds would be required to be lined to prevent any toxic materials from seeping into groundwater. (Beasley Allen, 6/15/2010)