Testimony ends at TVA coal ash spill trial

2:55 PM, Oct 11, 2011   |    comments
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By BILL POOVEY, Associated Press

Testimony has ended at a Knoxville trial over the Tennessee Valley Authority's 2008 coal ash spill that fouled a river and waterfront community.

The chief investigator for the TVA inspector general was among the last witnesses Tuesday. Gregory Stinson testified that an engineering consultant who conducted a $3 million study of the spill told investigators he was directed by TVA not to "judge TVA employees and contractors" in determining what caused a coal ash storage pond dike to give way.

Consultant William H. Walton testified earlier that his mission was to find and report the technical cause of failure. His study concluded that a deep slime layer in the Kingston power plant pond caused the collapse.

TVA is fighting a lawsuit from property owners who contend the utility was negligent

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The Tennessee Valley Authority's coal ash trial starts its fourth week with plaintiff attorneys cross-examining a TVA consultant who says he was hired to find what caused the spill, not to place blame.

Geotechnical engineer William H. Walton is to be back on the witness stand a third day Tuesday in Knoxville.

Attorneys for property owners who are suing contend TVA negligence in training, operations and construction caused the December 2008 disaster.

Walton, who testified he has been paid $180,000 to testify as an expert for TVA, says a deep slime layer caused the disaster.

The nation's largest public utility is trying to avoid lawsuit payouts from about 5.4 million cubic yards of sludge spilling into the Emory River and onto surrounding property in the river community west of Knoxville.

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