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Kingston Coal Workers Headed to Mediation

Friday, January, 18, 2019


The nation’s first and largest case of mass poisoning by coal ash is headed to mediation. A federal judge recently ordered the contractor and sickened workers to the bargaining table to see if they could reach a settlement on their own.


Jacobs Engineering will be required to mediate the toxic tort lawsuit that was filed by hundreds of laborers. The workers were sickened, many fatally, from their long-term unprotected exposure to more than 7 million tons of coal ash. The ash was spilled from a dike at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County about 10 years ago.


Jacobs Engineering was put in control of the clean-up of the toxic sludge by TVA after more than 300 acres in the Swan Pond community was smothered by the sludge. Jacobs had previously been accused of safety violations, tampering with safety equipment, and deceit, and was facing lawsuits and criminal charges at the time the company was hired by TVA.


Now, more than 30 workers involved in the Swan Pond project have died and more than 300 have been diagnosed as terminal because of their exposure to toxic materials.


According to an investigation by USA Today Network – Tennessee, as well as testimony in the first phase of lawsuits, revealed Jacobs told workers the coal as was “safe enough to eat.” The company denied workers protective gear and told workers they would be laid off if they continued to complain about their working conditions.


In November, a jury ruled Jacobs had violated its contract and breached its duty to protect workers. Now, the workers affected want their medical testing and treatment paid for by Jacobs and hope mediation can net a settlement that helps them.