TVA Public Relations Staff Edited Engineer's Report on Failed Coal-Ash Dam

September 21, 2011

The Tennessee Valley Authority's public relations staff reviewed and suggested changes in an engineer's report on the Dec. 2008 dam failure that caused 5.4 million cubic yards of coal-ash slurry to inundate the area near TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant.

Engineer Chris Buttram began his inspections before the spill incident but completed it afterward. His initial draft report said several eroded areas needed to be fixed "immediately." After the public relations staff suggested striking the word "immediately," Buttram did so. He made the admission while testifying in a civil suit.