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TVA to Citizens: Do Not Disturb

Rob Perks

Posted January 16, 2009

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Turns out that this public agency -- the Tennessee Valley Authority -- is not at all interested in hearing from the public.

Yesterday morning, NRDC issued an action alert on our website urging people to ask TVA to cover the costs of much-needed toxic testing for the victims of the massive Kingston coal ash spill.

We sent our alert at at 11:41 am -- and at 11:55 am, after just a couple hundred citizens sent emails, the TVA apparently disabled its email account ( to block incoming messages.  As a result, several thousand messages haven't gone through. 

I immediately phoned TVA's top media official, Gil Francis, to figure out the problem, but he stonewalled me on an answer -- and a remedy -- all day.  This morning he confirmed that TVA had received the initial emails and he ordered NRDC to stop people from sending any more.  I told Mr. Francis that we would be happy to ask people to stop the emails if TVA would agree to the request for medical funding.  He declined to respond to that request and simply reiterated that it was not necessary for any more people to contact TVA.

Mr. Francis also refused to provide an alternative email address for us or to confirm the one we're now using to reroute messages:

In NRDC's long experience coordinating e-activism, it is highly unusual for a targeted government agency to block or prevent citizen emails from coming in.  TVA's arrogance in regard to public participation is matched only by its willful disregard for the safety of the community now covered in its toxic coal ash sludge.

If you agree, why not let them hear from you? Send a message to TVA.

Perhaps now that the media outlets like The Tennessean and others are now on to this story, we'll get some added pressure on TVA.  I'm not exactly holding my breath waiting for TVA's public response. 

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Dave CooperJan 16 2009 07:13 PM

Wow, TVA is even worse than I thought. I thought they were just dragging their feet - now I realize that that TVA and spokesman Gil Francis are being openly hostile to efforts to get people tested for health problems.

I hope that the mainstream media can pick up on this great story. Thanks NRDC

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