updated 12/28/2008 7:32:57 PM ET 2008-12-29T00:32:57

The CEO and president of the nation's largest public utility made a promise to address the health and safety concerns of a community near a major coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee.

Tom Kilgore, who heads the Tennessee Valley Authority, said Sunday the utility will pay to test local wells for contamination and would start air quality testing.

Kilgore spoke to hundreds of residents who gathered Sunday to get answers about the environmental and economic impact of Monday's spill.

More than a billion gallons of coal fly ash spilled from a pond at a TVA coal plant, flooding a neighborhood in Harriman and dumping a mix of ash and water in the Emory River, causing residents of nearby Kingston to worry about their drinking water.

TVA has said the water is safe to drink.

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