In 2017, high levels of arsenic, lead and fluoride were found in monitoring wells at Allen, sparking fears that the aquifer that supplies Memphis’ drinking water could become tainted.
Testing has since deemed the public water supply unaffected. But a report released by the utility also showed a connection between the shallow aquifer where toxins were found and the deeper Memphis Sand Aquifer that provides the city’s slightly sweet-tasting drinking water.
Justin J. Pearson, co-founder of Memphis Community Against Pollution, supports the removal of the coal ash but criticized the approval and the way TVA conducted the public feedback.
“We understand the urgency of the situation. And we want for the coal ash to be removed. We do not want the communities that are dealing with hundreds of trucks per day and with thousands of trucks over a decade to have no idea what is about to happen to them with toxic coal ash riding right next to them on city streets. That’s unfair and wrong,” Pearson said.
The utility, which provides power to more than 10 million people in parts of seven Southern states, has come under scrutiny for its handling of coal ash at other Tennessee plants.