The Tennessee Valley Authority has agreed to pay $27.8 million to settle claims with more than 800 property owners affected by the one of the largest man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history.
"The river is so nice, so peaceful, " Charlotte Strandberg, whose late husband is one of the 850 victims in the lawsuit, remembered what the Emory River looked like prior to the spill. "I can see all the stuff in the river, we had our boat dock out there and I thought 'oh my.'"
On December 22, 2008, the wall of a huge storage pond broke at the TVA power plant in Kingston. The collapse of the earthen dike unleashed a tidal wave of more than one billion gallons of wet ash and sludge in Roane County, much of it falling directly into the Emory River and Clinch River.
PREVIOUS STORY: TVA Ash Spill measured in billions five years later
For the last two years, a federal judge put the case in mediation, meaning lawyers and TVA were ordered to work out an agreement without a jury. They reached that agreement in the last month.
"The other alternative would've been a long court battle, so all parties agreed this would be the best resolution," said TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Varlan ruled in 2012 that TVA was liable for the spill.
In the first five year after the spill, TVA spent more than $1 billion on the clean-up and recovery. It estimates the total costs to reach $1.2 billion when the project is completed.
"I just put it out of my mind," Strandberg added.