Knoxville, Tenn. (Tuesday, January 6) – Melinda and Ron Hillman had a dream. They wanted to live in a beautiful home, surrounded by a lake, mountains and a healthy environment for their granddaughter. And eleven years ago they found just what they were looking for in the small town of Harriman, Tenn., where they started new jobs and put their savings money into building a new home in 1994.
But almost fourteen years later, December 22, 2008, the lifestyle they had worked so hard to create was altered when a TVA ash spill sent more than one billion gallons of contaminated sludge onto the Harriman land. They are now worried about the health impacts of the sludge to their granddaughter who lives with them. And like many residents, they are afraid that their home’s value has drastically diminished, almost over night.
With assistance from Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, five Harriman, Tenn. residents, including Melinda Hillman, will board a plane for Washington, D.C. tomorrow. They plan to share their stories with elected officials, and ask for increased TVA accountability.
“I look forward to providing our expertise during this important hearing,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director. “While we think it is imperative that members of Congress provide greater oversight of TVA and the dangers of coal ash, we can’t lose focus from the families whose lives have been horribly disrupted by this disaster.”
These residents are visiting the nation’s capital to voice concerns about the December 22 TVA ash spill that has left hundreds of acres of land devastated by sludge and water. Heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead and thallium have been identified in the ash, leaving many of these citizens worried about their health. Concerned about their land’s worth, and some with affected jobs, each of these visitors will be calling on their elected officials to take bold action to help ensure that such a catastrophe never happens again.
While in Washington, D.C., Stephen A. Smith, executive director, will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The oversight hearing on the Tennessee Valley Authority and the recent major coal ash spill will occur Thursday, January 8 at 10 a.m.