HARRIMAN, Tenn. (AP)– A retention pond wall collapsed early Monday morning at a power plant run by the nation's largest public utility, releasing a frigid mix of water and ash that flooded 15 homes nearby.
The 40-acre pond was used by the Tennessee Valley Authority
as a containment area for ash generated by the coal-burning Kingston Steam
Plant in Harriman, about 50 miles west of Knoxville, said TVA spokesman Gil
Francis. An earthen wall gave way just before 1 a.m., flooding the road and
railroad tracks leading to the plant.
No one was seriously injured or needed to be taken to the
hospital, said Howie Rose, the director of the Roane County Office of Emergency
Management and Homeland Security. WVLT-TV reported that two people had to be
rescued from their homes but had only minor injuries.
The extent of the damage was not immediately clear. TVA experts
went up in a helicopter after sunrise to assess the damage from the air.
Crews were working to clear debris in the neighborhood on
Swan Pond Circle Road, Rose said.
Rose said a train carrying coal to the plant reached the
point on the tracks that is flooded and couldn't go forward or back up. He said
there were no injuries and authorities were trying to assist the train.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been notified,
Francis said. Investigators are still trying to determine exactly what caused
the flood, but he said heavy rains and freezing temperatures may be to blame.
The National Weather Service reported it was only 14 degrees just before 6 a.m.
According to Francis, the area usually receives about 2.8
inches of rain in December. There's been about 4.9 inches of rain so far this
month, Francis said.
Knoxville-based TVA supplies electricity to 8.8 million
consumers in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina