Alexander: TVA Needs to Clean Up This Mess and Ensure It Never Happens Again

Says Making Tennesseans Whole Again Is Most Important

Posted on January 8, 2009

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), co-chairman of the Congressional Tennessee Valley Authority Caucus and a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following remarks at the committee’s investigatory hearing regarding the TVA coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee. ? “TVA should clean up this mess, make whole all the people who were hurt, and do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t happen again in the TVA region. I’m going to make this a long-term goal.” ? “I want my contribution to be long-term in two ways: first, to those who are hurt. We visited awhile this morning in my office and among the several things that were said is that they hope that I stay interested after the media left and after the country went onto another issue. I will do that and I think all of have the responsibility to do that and I will work with Governor Bredesen who has been on the site and Mr. Kilgore, CEO and President of TVA.” ? “I will work with this committee to make sure that this doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. We must set clear goals about what we want Roane County to be 5 years from now -- a place where people live, where children play, and where the water is clean. I live not far from there myself and I know how beautiful Roane County is, and we want that to be our goal.” ? “The second thing I’d like to do is turn a short-term regulatory management failure into a long-term technology development story. What we really need here and I suggested this at an address at the Oak Ridge Laboratory in the Spring is a series of new Manhattan Projects on how we can safely and cleanly use coal in this country to make electricity for however long we need to do that.” ? “Today, for example, Tennessee gets 60 percent of its electricity from coal. And that’s very important to us. When I was governor, I recruited Saturn and Nissan and I know Governor Bredesen has recruited Volkswagen. More recently, one of the largest new plants to make the material that creates solar cells, Poly Silicone, will bring in $1.2 billion in investment to Tennessee. Without power, these companies would not be able to produce.” ? “So, we as a committee should make a massive effort over the next 5 years to turn this environmental tragedy into a technology success story and maybe at the end of 5 years we will be able to burn coal in a clean way.” ? “My commitment is long-term: first to the victims and second to the technology.” The Environment and Public Works Committee hearing was called to address the December 22 spill of fly ash sludge from the TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant. The sludge covered hundreds of acres and destroyed several homes in Roane County. Witnesses testifying at the hearing included TVA CEO and President Tom Kilgore, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Executive Director Stephen A. Smith, Roane County Director of Emergency Management Services William “Howie” Rose, and several Roane County residents who lost property or suffered damages as a direct result of the spill.