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Coal-Ash Spill Scars Tennessee as Rules Fight Rages

Holly Schean didn’t know what was on the other side of the hill near her parents’ home in Kingston, Tennessee. At 1 a.m. on Dec. 22, 2008, she found out. The earth split and toxic coal ash surged across a finger of the Emory River.

The 5.4-million-cubic-yard torrent from a slurry-filled pond owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority deposited the splintered house 10 yards from its foundation. It relocated a road and a rail line, choked waterways and created a moonscape of mounds residents dubbed “ashbergs.”