Tennessee Clean Water Network v. Tennessee Valley Authority

District court: Toxic coal ash is most likely leaking from ponds near a soon-to-be shuttered Tennessee Valley Authority power plant into the Cumberland River near a popular recreation spot. The TVA must move the coal ash to a new facility with better protections against leakages. Sixth Circuit: Not so. Because the contamination reaches the river indirectly (first seeping into groundwater and then reaching the river), the Clean Water Act doesn’t apply. (Other laws might, though.) Judge Clay, dissenting: “Can a polluter escape liability under the Clean Water Act … by moving its drainage pipes a few feet from the riverbank? The Fourth and Ninth Circuits have said no. In two cases today, the majority says yes.”

Tags: 2018, Clean Water Act, Judge Clay, Sixth Circuit

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