VIDEO UPDATE: As we understand it, there are at least two places you can watch this hearing live. One is at the Senate committee site. A red button will appear on this page when the hearing is live. You will need RealPlayer and you will need to disable your popup blockers. Another option is WATE, a local ABC affiliate.
A few tidbits from the hearing:
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
"More than 1 billion gallons of waste rushed down the valley like a wave."
"The volume of ash and water was nearly 100 times greater than the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster."
"Coal ash contaminates groundwater across the country."
"We have no federal standards for the disposal of this."
Tom Udall (D-NM) on the fly ash piles that TVA keeps:
"Your plan is just to keep accumulating them and hope that they go away? I don't understand where you're headed here."
Tennessee Valley Authority CEO Tom Kilgore:
"If people don't want to come back, we're willing to purchase the property."
Kilgore was being hauled into answer questions about a disastrous dam break that led to coal ash from his federally-owned energy company spilling into the Emory and Clinch Rivers in Roane County, Tenn. The spill is in the running for worst environmental disaster in US history.
When Congress said earlier this week that it would bring Kilgore in, Bloomberg and others reported that the questions would focus on whether or not TVA was the beneficiary of "exaggerated deference" from other government agencies and regulators because of its unique makeup.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer, was briefed yesterday by a group of residents carrying a jar of toxic coal sludge sample they took from the massive spill that ruined homes, killed wildlife and may currently be poisoning local water supply.
But Boxer wasn't the only one talking to residents yesterday. Kilgore, in Tennessee, attempted to answer the questions of some angry coal ash spill victims.
John Hoag, of Harriman, took Mr. Kilgore to task for being too concerned about money to take the safest possible fix years ago for previous dam leaks on the earthen landfill berm that gave way just before Christmas. The collapse dumped 1.1 billion gallons of wet fly ash sludge from 50 years of waste on more than 300 acres around the Kingston plant.
Mr. Kilgore told him he had seen nothing in those previous problems that made him think spending $25 million to line the landfill -- one of the options TVA considered -- was the right option.
"I did not find anything I thought was not an abnormal tradeoff," Mr. Kilgore said.
"What you call 'not an abnormal tradeoff' we call a disaster," Mr. Hoag shot back.