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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A lawyer has confirmed he is taking on legal cases against the Tennessee Valley Authority regarding alleged health risks for people living near or working at the Bull Run Fossil Plant.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A lawyer has confirmed he is taking on legal cases against the Tennessee Valley Authority regarding alleged health risks for people living near or working at the Bull Run Fossil Plant.

The statement came from Jim Scott with Knoxville-based Market Street Law, in response to questions from The Oak Ridger. He said he represents roughly 10 people in the Claxton Community suing over various health issues allegedly caused by the plant. He said the cases involve “various conditions that range from very serious birth defects to lung, sinus issues and cancers.” He later also mentioned “skin problems.”

He said these problems were discussed in TVA’s “internal literature” as resulting from coal ash exposure.

When asked if the people filing suit against TVA are people who work at Bull Run or live nearby, he said “at this juncture I expect there to be a combination of the two” without explaining whether the roughly 10 people he said he represented included both.

“Listen, I grew up in Oak Ridge. I am not an environmentalist or a tree-hugger. … You can’t grow up in Oak Ridge and not be pro-energy, pro-business and government and everything like that, but sometimes when things aren’t done right, they cause some problems. DOE (the Department of Energy) does a great job of protecting people. TVA not so much,” he said.

Scott declined to give his Claxton clients’ names.

Scott said he has represented similar clients with coal ash health-related cases in the Roane County. He did not confirm the nature of those cases in the phone interview. However, The News Sentinel has stated Scott represented Michael McCarthy, the first worker to sue contractor Jacobs Engineering Group over health issues allegedly connected to handling coal ash in the 2008 coal ash spill at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant. Lawsuits involving cleanup workers against Jacobs Engineering Group regarding its handling of that spill cleanup have attracted national media attention. Also, The News Sentinel stated Scott also represented landowners affected by the 2008 spill.

Scott told The Oak Ridger he had taken on more coal ash related cases in Roane County than Anderson County, stating that he “couldn’t even begin” to estimate the number he had represented in Roane County involving health-related issues reportedly connected to TVA. However, he said the two areas — Kingston and Claxton — are “similar” in terms of health consequences from fly ash.

“I’ve just seen so many lives affected by it, … I seem to have developed some sort of a niche, so people call me on these sorts of cases,” he said. He said he had been involved in fly ash cases for “almost a decade now.”

“It’s a big issue with Claxton right now I know, and those people have a right to know,” Scott said. In “about 2013,” he said, TVA entered into a $560 million settlement involving fly ash blown into North Carolina from smoke stacks at Kingston, Bull Run and John Sevier fossil plants.

“When people were breathing it in the zones where it was dropping in sparse conditions, it caused evidently about 1,000 premature deaths per year,” he said in addition to pulmonary, sinus and heart problems. He also cited a “major settlement” in 2013 in Mooresville, N.C.

Jim Hopson, TVA public information officer, contacted by The Oak Ridger, said, “We have not been served by any lawsuits according to our legal counsel’s office. That does not mean that it could not be somewhere potentially in the legal system, but TVA has not been served by any lawsuits similar to what you’re describing,” he said.

When questioned, Scott said he could not say how many fly ash cases had been settled in favor of his clients.

“Obviously, safety of the public and employees is of paramount importance to us. And our operations, our procedures are designed to provide safe operation. TVA meets or exceeds all federal, state and local laws pertaining to issues that could … impact public safety. And in the cases where issues have been found in the environment, TVA has done its part to address those issues to insure that any potential issue is very minor and quickly resolved,” Hopson said.

Letters

A Claxton resident told The Oak Ridger at a recent community meeting that Henderson Bend residents had received a questionnaire about health conditions and gave the reporter a copy.

The letter stated it was from John Tyler Roper of Market Street Law, PLLC.

“If you live at the area of the spill and the TVA coal plant at the Kingston Industrial Facility or at Bull Run and you or your loved ones, especially children, are sick, you may have a case, so please do not hesitate to complete the forms and contact us with any questions or comments,” it stated.

Scott told The Oak Ridger he did not know about this letter and had no involvement with it. Roper, emailed by the Oak Ridger, did not respond.

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