TVA Buys 71 Coal Ash Spill Properties

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Valley Authority has spent more than $20 million buying up 71 properties tainted by a major coal ash spill in Tennessee and is negotiating to buy more. But the nation's largest public utility also has turned down 160 others hoping to sell out.

"We are trying to balance between doing the right thing by the people that were impacted by this (and) keeping in mind that this is ratepayer money," TVA senior vice president Peyton Hairston told The Associated Press on Friday.

The agency has received more than 200 requests from property owners willing to sell tracts they felt were damaged or devalued by the Dec. 22 release of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash from a retaining wall breach at the Kingston Fossil Plant, about 40 miles west of Knoxville.

"As we work through this process we have been able to determine that some people are just outside the area that we feel has been impacted," Hairston said. He couldn't say exactly where TVA drew the line, but said, "when you go down there, you sort of know it when you see it."

Letters to rejected claimants going out Friday said TVA evaluated each claim on the basis of actual damage from the ash spill, potential damage from the cleanup and distance from the spill area.

The letters delivered the bad news as follows: "Based on our review of these criteria, we have found no reason for TVA to purchase your property or offer compensation for any diminished value of your property."

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