coal quarry

Coal Ash Cleanup Leads to Toxic Exposure Lawsuits

A subcontractor for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is facing multiple toxic exposure lawsuits over its alleged mishandling of toxic coal ash following a massive spill in 2008.

The Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant, one of TVA’s sites, was dumping coal ash, a toxic byproduct of coal-fired electricity, into a massive body of water as a means of disposing of it.

Disaster struck in December 2008 when a dike holding back the slurry broke, spilling a billion gallons of coal ash over 400 acres. To make matters worse, when the slurry water evaporated, it left the coal ash behind as dust which flew even farther away.

It was one of the largest industrial accidents in United States history.

Coal Ash Alleged to Cause Ongoing Health Problems

Now, eight years later, workers who were hired to clean up the spill are plagued by a host of health problems, which they claim have been caused by the coal ash. The workers are suing their employer, Jacobs Engineering Group, the firm contracted by the TVA to clean up after the accident.

The toxic exposure lawsuit alleges that the sludge and ash seeped into the workers’ skin, was inhaled into their lungs, and even traveled through the body to contaminate blood and brain tissue. Some of the ailments Jacobs workers suffer from include:

  • Cancer
  • Dizziness
  • Neuropathy in extremities
  • Lung ailments like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia
  • Skin irritations
  • Neurological problems

Workers Say They Received Little Protection or Training

The workers decry the lack of protection and toxic exposure training provided to them, despite the TVA paying lip service to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) directive in 2009, as well as receiving Superfund protocols from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Workers also allege that their employers told them the ash was safe when they knew it wasn’t.

Although the TVA wasn’t named in the toxic exposure suit, it says workers were adequately informed of the risks and that claims that toxicity never exceeded “allowable limits.” Yet the ill employees describe working conditions like wading in slurry up to their knees, caked ash all over their hands, face, hair, and even in their teeth. Many say the only protection they wore were safety goggles or paper face masks while they cleaned up the 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic sludge.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to toxic substances without receiving adequate protection or training, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Contact our toxic exposure legal team to learn more about your case.