The start of this disaster was caused by the negligence of the Tennessee Valley authority. The TVA was warned about the instability of their ash handling system years ago.
What many individuals fail to realize is that the TVA is an government owned corporation. Ask individuals in the power industry how goc's operate, and they will let you know how horrid they are.
This is why individuals in a free market are far more effective at regulating business than politicians, bureaucracies and the special interests that surround them. A private company would be held responsible for the damage it caused, along with actions of criminal negligence that took place by the TVA for all these years.
The taxpayers are robbed to find the TVA, and are also robbed in order to pay for damages caused by the company. The goc will never fail, and remains continually funded through extortion (taxation).
Many wished to blame the private companies, and made it seem that all power plants operate in this manner. This is utterly false, as privately run power plants have a far better environmental record than the goc's within the generation sector.
Investor capital and consumer support can be pulled from a private company. Lawsuits, fines, imprisonment, etc. can result from negligence. A private company subjected to market forces is not incentivized to engage in such horrid business behavior. They will wind up a failure. A government owned corporation doesn't have to worry about failing, as extortion funds are almost unlimited.
The only problem with private companies arises when they collude, and are protected by politicians, and also for bad behavior. Then it is no longer a free market, as the company is protected from market actions to dissolve it, and it can also acquire funds through subsidies, and capital robbed from taxpayers. BP is a prime example of a protected company, whom should have gone bankrupt after the major oil spill. Yet the politicians protected the company, while making it look like they were the ones to scold and hold the companies feet to the fire. They paid a small fee and taxpayers wound up footing the bill for some of the cleanup also.