Knoxville, TN – May 12, 2009 – This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into an agreement with TVA to oversee the cleanup efforts at the TVA disaster site where more than one billion gallons of coal ash devastated a community in December. This is an enforceable agreement under the Administrative Order, which was entered into under the superfund law, also know as CERCLA.
“Under this order TVA remains the lead federal agency which is completely inappropriate. It is like having the burglar come to the scene of the crime to dust for fingerprints and having the EPA oversee the superfund disaster after TVA’s failed efforts is like having the burglar’s brother watching him dust.” Said United Mountain Defense board member Scott Ellis.
The Administrative Order labels actions such as dredging the Emory River, evaluation of the existing dike, planning off site ash disposal as well as air monitoring and dust control as time critical and the EPA has stated that these types of time critical actions will take place before any public hearings or opportunities for public input occur.
“The EPA seems to share TVA’s distain for public participation. It is critical that the EPA honor the role of public involvement as a key component of Superfund law instead of acting like public participation is an inconvenience or obstacle to get around. Given that the dredging will take place over months and the cleanup years there is no excuse to not have public hearings and comments on all phases of the cleanup operation.” Said Bonnie Swinford a board member and volunteer coordinator for United Mountain Defense.
United Mountain Defense co-founder Paloma Galindo states “Public participate is neither token nor an afterthought. The government has no monopoly on good ideas. Because of the former Manhattan project and Oak Ridge National Laboratories next door to the Superfund site this east Tennessee community is rich with scientist and other community members that deserve to be involved in decisions that impact their health and environment. United Mountain Defense is requesting public hearings on the dredging and cleanup plan from the EPA immediately.”