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Congressmen press utility for answers on coal ash cleanup

February 9, 2019

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two Tennessee congressmen wrote a letter to the head of the Tennessee Valley Authority on Thursday, seeking answers to questions about the cleanup of a massive coal ash spill.

Allegations that the contractor TVA hired to handle the cleanup lied to workers and subverted safety precautions have surfaced in lawsuits the workers filed against Jacobs Engineering Group. Workers blame the job for illnesses ranging from hypertension to cancer. A federal judge has ordered mediation between the parties.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports Republican Rep. Tim Burchett and Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen signed the letter to TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson. It says the lawmakers were alarmed by news that TVA ratepayers might have to pay for Jacobs’ “misdeeds” during the cleanup of the 2008 Kingston ash spill.

Citing reports in the newspaper, the congressmen say more than 40 cleanup workers have died and more than 400 are sick. And they ask Johnson a series of questions.

They include why TVA hired Jacobs in the first place given what they say is the company’s history of “worker safety lawsuits and test tampering.” And they ask what commitments Jacobs made to show it could keep the workers and community safe.

They also ask why TVA continues to do business with Jacobs and why TVA supervisors did not act on worker health complaints, among other questions.

TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said in an email the utility is reviewing the letter and will provide a comprehensive response.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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