Contact: Matt Dempsey (202)224-9797 

Link to AECOM Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. -U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today commented on the findings of the Root Cause Analysis report that details the cause of failure at the TVA Kingston Dredge Pond.

“I believe this independent engineering report brings answers to what happened the night of December 22, 2008.” Senator Inhofe said.   “The findings of this report shed light on the engineering challenges we face surrounding this debate to define coal combustion products.  In fact, the findings of the report bring the debate back to engineering standards instead of waste classification standards.”   

On December 22, 2008 at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant ash disposal site, Cell 2 failed and released 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash into the surrounding area. AECOM, a geo-technical engineering firm based in Los Angeles, released their Root Cause Analysis report today.  The findings and analysis were part of a comprehensive six-month report commissioned by the TVA in January 2009.  According to the AECOM report, failure was sudden and complex.   A combination of the existence of an unusual bottom layer of ash and silt, the high water content of the wet ash, the increasing height of ash, and the construction of the sloping dikes over the wet ash were among the long-evolving conditions that caused a 50 year old coal ash storage pond breach and subsequent ash spill at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant on December 22, 2008.

“In moving forward with the answer of what caused the Kingston spill, it is clear that the physical structural integrity of surface impoundments needs to be the logical center of the debate and that arguing back and forth about how to classify coal combustion products is not the answer.” Inhofe added. “I believe this report will be an important factor in the ongoing debate.”