DURHAM, N.C. – A team of researchers led by Avner Vengosh and Heileen Hsu-Kim of Duke University have received a $357,114 grant to conduct research on coal ash contaminants. The grant is funded by the Tennessee Valley Authority and administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

Vengosh is associate professor of earth and ocean sciences at the Nicholas School of the Environment. Hsu-Kim is assistant professor of environmental engineering at the Pratt School of Engineering. Other members of the team are Jim Hower of the University of Kentucky and Thomas Johnson of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The researchers will use the funds to study “Geochemical and Isotope Characterization of TVA Coal Combustion Products: Identification of Contaminants and Modeling Their Fate in the Environment.”

They are one of six teams, out of a total of 68 grant proposals submitted, who received support through the three-year $2 million TVA-funded initiative, which is intended to identify beneficial alternative ways to re-use or process coal combustion products, and examine the effects of coal fly ash releases into the environment.

Vengosh was lead author and Hsu-Kim was a co-author of a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on Aug. 15, 2009, that was the first peer-reviewed, double-blind research paper to examine potential environmental and human health impacts in the immediate aftermath of a coal ash spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston power plant in Harriman, Tenn., in December 2008. Initial funding for that research was provided by the Nicholas School, in part through a gift from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, N.C.