The latest skirmish about contamination near a coal-fired power plant in Gallatin involves a disagreement over raw ground water testing data.
Environmentalists have been hounding the Tennessee Valley Authority for years, accusing the massive federal utility of letting harmful contaminates seep into ground water and flow into the Cumberland River. The primary source is a towering ash pile onsite, similar to one that collapsed in Kingston eight years ago. There's a federal trial scheduled to commence next month.
At the state level, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has been accused of being too cozy with TVA. But in a letter dated Jan. 4, the agency's attorneys say the utility is being disingenuous. While the two parties are operating under a court injunction agreed to a year ago, TVA says it does not have to share ground water testing data that shows elevated levels of contaminants.
A statement from TVA says drinking water is safe and the utility wants to make decisions on "sound science and validated, accurate data."
"We refuse to needlessly alarm the local community," spokesman Scott Brooks wrote in an email. "While we believe that using raw data is inappropriate, we are in the process of providing it."