Trial on TVA ash spill lawsuits starting 4th week

By The Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 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.