The Tennessee Valley Authority has asked a federal court to dismiss all lawsuits against the utility for a major coal ash spill in Kingston.
The utility said in a statement after Friday's filing in Knoxville that its responsibility is to clean up from the December spill of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash and it also has a financial responsibility to its 9 million customers.
Seven lawsuits have been brought by residents over the spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant, but the utility said some of the plaintiffs live dozens of miles away from the site.
TVA has spent more than $68 million on the cleanup and estimates the job could cost up to $825 million, excluding fines and damages from lawsuits.
Gary Davis, an attorney for a group of individuals who pressed the suit, said he'll file a response to TVA's request.
"We knew it was coming," he said. "The bottom line is they claim they are immune because they are a government agency, but the TVA Act says they can sue and be sued. Their claim is not valid and is a slap in the face of people who have suffered for four months."
The utility has purchased more than 70 properties affected by the spill for a total cost of $20 million and is working to resolve other property claims. Dredging the sludge from the Emory River channel began last month.
"TVA is making meaningful progress to restore conditions near the Kingston site," the utility said. "We are working as quickly and safely as possible to do this while maintaining public health and safety."
Beth Alexander, another plaintiff's attorney, said TVA's motion is "very telling."
"They filed this motion and all the while they have asked people to be patient while they work out their long-term plan. Clearly, TVA has delayed taking responsibility with respect to the many residents and how they've suffered."