Community members along with environmental and health advocates are gathering to discuss issues with the Tennessee Valley Authority's Colbert Fossil Plant in Tuscumbia.
"We live right close to it and in other areas it's not as concentrated," says Marvin Thompson, who says his family has lived near the plant for years. He says he has lost four family members to cancer.
"There has got to be something causing it for that many people in one family to have cancer," Thompson added.
The TVA plan stopped producing power in 2016, and the federally-owned corporation says it has been capping the coal ash ponds safely to ensure nothing gets into the ground water. The plant is located on the Pickwick Reservoir on the Tennessee River.
Samford University School of Public Health associate professor Rachel Casiday, Ph.D., was present for the community meeting along with environmentalists.
"Members of the community have expressed concern about possible health effects that they think may be arising from their proximety to the plant and in particular the coal ash pond," Casiday says, "A number of toxic chemicals are found in coal ash, and for that reason discharges from coal ash are regualted."
Tva says it has met all of the Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines to safely cap the coal ash ponds, and they are currently working to cap the last coal ash pond at the plant site."
Casiday says proving a link between the cancer rates and coal ash could be difficult.
"The proof of that link is very difficult but we are here to support the community and take those concerns seriously."
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