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EPA Begins Civil Rights Investigation of TVA Coal Ash Disposal

Date: June 25, 2012

Source: News Room

EPA's Office of Civil Rights said it will investigate a discrimination complaint filed by residents of Perry County, AL, home to the Arrowhead landfill which has accepted spilled coal ash from the massive Tennessee Valley Authority 2008 spill in Kingston, TN. The residents allege the state violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by issuing the landfill its permits. EPA's OCR wrote a June 14 letter to David Ludder, the attorney representing 54 Perry County residents who filed the civil rights complaint against the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), saying it "has accepted for investigation" the allegations that the state's permitting of Arrowhead Landfill "will adversely and disparately impact the African-American residents in the community." However, the complaint is likely to be difficult to resolve because while it was ADEM that issued the permits to expand the landfill to accommodate the spilled ash, it was EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson who ultimately approved TVA's plan to transfer of the coal ash from relatively wealthy Kingston, TN, to the poor, minority community of Perry County, AL. Title VI generally prohibits recipients of federal funds from engaging in discriminatory behavior. This marks one of the first high-profile petitions EPA has accepted for investigation and stems in part from Jackson's vow to elevate environmental justice issues since she came to the agency.

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