The spill of fly ash slurry from a coal-fired power station in Harriman, Tennessee, USA, has renewed calls for the waste to be classified as toxic and its storage in open pits outlawed.
More than a billion gallons of ash and water sludge spewed through a collapsed retaining wall in December 2008, destroying houses and covering 400 acres to a depth of up to 9ft.
Analyses of the mixture show it contains unsafe levels of radium and arsenic, which would have been leaching from the slurry pond into the surrounding environment for decades.
‘There is no excuse for further delay,’ said Lisa Evans, an attorney with Earthjustice. ‘The EPA [Environmenal Protection Agency] has the data… and it’s time the EPA made these polluters do their part to clean up.’