You may recall that a while back (in January 2009, to be exact) we blogged about the TVA – click here — noting how the U.S. Supreme Court voiced its concern in the Powelson case that the law of eminent domain involves tension between public interest in the creation of public works and the principle of indemnity to condemnees. Indemnity? To condemnees? Yep, that’s what the court said even though such a suggestion was absurd, and still is. There is no indemnity in eminent domain cases, and there is no danger to the creation of public works, particularly dams which in their heyday were built in profusion, and are being breached these days because they are deemed bad for fish.
What we stressed then and what bears repetition now is that in fact, the prolific creation of TVA dams created no “tension” with the public interest. On the contrary, the TVA made a killing on them because they enabled it to generate cheap electric power (at a50% of the cost of its competitors) thus bringing lots of power-consuming industry to the area and lots of money into TVA pockets. Eventually, the TVA exhausted its hydroelectric power generation capacity, so it built a lot of coal-burning power plants in the area, thereby inspiring much coal strip mining and creating all sorts of environmental problems.
The problem with coal burning power plants is that they, well, burn coal and thereby generate lots of ash. The TVA simply piled up the ash into small mountains, and evetually the inevitable happened. In December 22, 2008, one of those giganting ash heaps located west of Knoxville, gave way and inundated nearby privately owned land with 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic sludge. Predictably, the affected owners sued. Now, the Ledger-Inquirer of August 3, 2011, brings the news that the U.S. District Court in Tennessee has granted summary judgment for the government on the plaintiffs’ causes of action based on personal injury, emotional distress, and inverse condemnation. Claims for trespass and nuisance, however, will go forward. The residents who have sued due to personal injury are taking the right path by searching for personal injury services, they should not have to take this lightly and accept what happened when this could have been prevented. Situations such as this happen all over the States, and some times people are afraid to stand up and plead their case, luckily there are companies such as this Antelope Valley law firm and others, who can help fight cases like this and bring those who have created the damage, to justice. Go to http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2011/08/03/v-print/1680779/judge-further-limits-tva-coal.html
So much for “indemnity.”
Follow up. For a more detailed description of this lawsuit by the associated Press, click here