If you’ve been following the saga of the transformer oil spill in my garden, there have been a few developments since last I wrote on this topic.
The latest is that on March 30, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) issued the local utility whose transformer exploded in my yard (MLGW), an order requiring them to clean up. If they don’t, TDEC will hire a third-party to remediate the site and will send the bill to MLGW. TDEC gave them a deadline to submit a plan for proceeding and said if they didn’t comply, they would be subject to fines.
When I checked with TDEC after that deadline to see what was up, it turns out I was wise not to break out the champagne.
MLGW retained one of the big, venerated, local law firms to represent them in this matter, you know, the little matter of please-just-come-get-your-oil-off-my-lawn-already? That matter. The lawyer said: “While MLGW does not agree with the Division’s determination, as reflected in the March 30 letter, at this point MLGW is willing to engage in further discussions with the Division.”
Willing to engage in further discussions??
I wish I could know why they want to hire a lawyer and spend more than it would take to remediate my soil to fight TDEC on this. Forget lawyers fees–they’ve already probably spent more on just laboratory fees getting soil testing than it would take to clean up my garden. What are they so afraid of?
Does it have something to do with some greater potential can of worms they fear would get opened? Setting a precedent of an admission of responsibility for cleaning up toxic oil in people’s yards? Surely this doesn’t happen with such frequency that it would cause significant hardship to the utility company to clean up their transformer oil explosion spills? From an ethics standpoint, shouldn’t they do so anyway?
I don’t think a public utility does things out of pure stubbornness. They’re not guided by emotion. They’re guided by the bottom line. There has got to be some logic here that I’m missing, because right now I can’t see how this adds up. Spending more money to fight something than it would cost to do the right thing doesn’t make fiscal sense.