Reporting From Louisville, KY – Authorities say a retention wall holding nearly 2.6 million cubic feet of fly ash failed early Monday morning at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil coal-fired power plant near Knoxville. Fly ash is what's leftover from burning coal for fuel, and it contains toxic metals like mercury and arsenic. Lisa Evans is an attorney for the law firm Earth Justice and a coal ash expert. She says several major spills have occurred throughout the United States in the past few year, and stronger regulations would help minimize the risk.
"The problem is that there are no federal regulations that provide minimum standards for how this waste is disposed. So it's up to each plant to decide how they want to handle the waste."
In a statement on its Web site, the Tennessee Valley Authority says it inspects fly ash retention structures every year. And it is working with state and local authorities to contain the spill.