Roane grand jury endorses criminal probe in ash spill cleanup

Tuesday, the Roane County grand jury threw its weight behind District Attorney General Russell Johnson’s efforts to have the TBI investigate Jacobs Engineering, the cleanup contractor responsible for the massive effort to clean up after the 2008 Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.

In a handwritten addendum to the grand jury’s regular report, the panel said it had heard over five hours of testimony from three witnesses about the cleanup and how the company treated its workers on the project.

Workers have alleged that they got sick and that some died as a result of their exposure to the ash. Jacobs Engineering is fighting an ongoing lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, and subsequent state and federal complaints have been filed against both the company and TVA.

The workers or their surviving family members, also allege Jacobs Engineering downplayed dangers of coal ash exposure and prevented them from taking steps to protect themselves. Jacobs has denied the allegations.

The handwritten grand jury report states: “The grand jury concurred with the district attorney general’s recommendation for him to predicate a TBI investigation into certain issues pertaining to clean-up worker safety e.g. alteration of air monitor results, other environmental tests and readings regarding the coal ash, failure to inform, protect and provide safety measures for cleanup workers, as well as to further pursue inquiry with (the state Department of Environment and Conservation), TVA and any possible state claims under the Clear Water Act.”

We will continue to follow this story as developments warrant.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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