On December 22, 2008, a breach in a surface impoundment (or storage pond) dike at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee resulted in the release of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash--also referred to as coal combustion residue (CCR)--into the nearby Emory River. The spill covered more than 300 acres and made 3 homes uninhabitable; it damaged 23 other homes, plus roads, rail lines, and utilities. TVA estimated the cleanup will cost between $933 million and $1.2 billion and take 2 to 3 years to complete. In light of the spill in Kingston, Congress asked us to identify: (1) the number of surface impoundments for storing CCR in the United States and their location; (2) problems, if any, with the storage of coal ash, and how those problems are being addressed; and (3) the type of federal oversight that exists for CCR and what, if any, issues need to be resolved. We briefed your staffs on October 1, 2009, and September 28, 2009, respectively, on the results of this work. This report summarizes and transmits that briefing. The full briefing is reprinted in the enclosure.
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