Environmental impacts of the coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee: An 18-month survey

Laura Ruhl, Avner Vengosh, Gary S. Dwyer, Heileen Hsu-Kim, Amrika Deonarine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


An 18 month investigation of the environmental impacts of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee combined with leaching experiments on the spilled TVA coal ash have revealed that leachable coal ash contaminants (LCACs), particularly arsenic, selenium, boron, strontium, and barium, have different effects on the quality of impacted environments. While LCACs levels in the downstream river water are relatively low and below the EPA drinking water and ecological thresholds, elevated levels were found in surface water with restricted water exchange and in pore water extracted from the river sediments downstream from the spill. The high concentration of arsenic (up to 2000 μg/L) is associated with some degree of anoxic conditions and predominance of the reduced arsenic species (arsenite) in the pore waters. Laboratory leaching simulations show that the pH and ash/water ratio control the LCACs' abundance and geochemical composition of the impacted water. These results have important implications for the prediction of the fate and migration of LCACs in the environment, particularly for the storage of coal combustion residues (CCRs) in holding ponds and landfills, and any potential CCRs effluents leakage into lakes, rivers, and other aquatic systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9272-9278
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number24
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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