Justice for Bull Run
The Kingston Coal Ash Spill is still an ongoing disaster. The initial spill resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of property damages and rendered many homes and properties uninhabitable. The disaster took a heavy toll, and now facts are coming to light that the work to clean up the toxic coal ash has devastated many more lives (already 44 deaths and over 400 people sick from the contamination).
Although it is good news that TVA is shutting down some coal-fired power plants across the state, the bad news is that there are dangerous toxic coal ash impoundments at those plants that must be safely cleaned up and the communities around them protected. So when TVA announced its plans to close the Bull Run Fossil Plant, SOCM members and staff immediately started reaching out to residents of the Claxton community to help organize meetings where people could come together to voice their concerns and call for TVA’s accountability to the public.
As SOCM intern, Maggie Lee, wrote,
“It should be noted that the plants TVA has closed(or those that are in the process thereof) never received any of the pollution controls and safety upgrades that TVA committed to in 2011, and that the prolonged process of deciding to close the plant, and then actually closing it,allows these plants to continue to go unchecked, and it is much harder legally to hold TVA liable.”
Several community meetings have already taken place with residents asking TDEC how it plans to hold TVA accountable. TVA is under an order by TDEC to investigate itself, determining just how much coal ash is stored at its coal-firing plants in Tennessee, whether it is causing contamination,and what the utility plans to do with it at each plant. That investigation isn’t finished, and the results won’t be made public for at least two years. Organizers, members, and residents have held numerous meetings and been on dozens of conference calls to work on plans and strategy to build a strong campaign to protect Claxton residents.
None of this happens by chance. It takes time and effort, mentoring and encouraging, to help people develop into strong community leaders.