Date: June 16, 2016
Source: Tennessee Valley Authority
Environmental groups are criticizing the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA's) plan to remediate coal ash sites to meet new EPA regulations adopted following the December 2008 disaster in which a coal ash pond at its Kingston plant released 1.1 billon gallons of toxic sludge into nearby waterways.
In its final environmental impact study released this week, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said it plans to spend $280 million and take up to 2.7 years to close and cap 10 coal ash ponds at a half dozen of its coal plants where the utility used wet ash storage.
TVA, which was forced to spend more than $1 billion to clean up the spill at its Kingston plant, plans a cheaper alternative to closing coal ash ponds at its other coal facilities. TVA is also spending about $1.5 billion to replace all of its wet ash coal ponds with dry storage of all coal combustion byproducts.
TVA has adopted the plan to comply with a new EPA rule, finalized in December 2014, that governs coal ash landfills and surface impoundments under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). It was promulgated in response to the Kingston disaster.
Environmental groups are critical of the plan. Amanda Garcia, a staff attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Nashville, said TVA's plan would permanently cover up millions of tons of coal ash in leaking, unlined pits in or adjacent to rivers in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. She said TVA's own monitoring data has shown the sites have polluted groundwater with toxic metals from coal ash. "We're incredulous that TVA, the poster child for coal ash mismanagement thanks to the Kingston disaster, continues to push forward blindly with a plan that ensures ongoing pollution for decades to come."
TVA estimates closing and removing the coal ash from those sites would be more than 10 times as expensive, costing more than $3 billion and likely raising TVA electric rates to cover the expense.
In contrast to TVA's approach, utilities in Georgia and in North and South Carolina have chosen to clean up some sites by excavating coal ash lagoons and taking the ash residues to dry, lined storage away from waterways. Georgia Power recently announced that it would be closing all 29 of its ash pits, 16 of which will be excavated and removed.
June 13, 2016
TVA Proposes Closure-in-Place for Coal Combustion Residuals
The Tennessee Valley Authority is proposing a long-term storage solution for its coal ash and other coal combustion residuals that would safely keep these products on TVA property permanently.
The recommendation for closure-in-place is part of a Final Environmental Impact Statement released this week addressing options for CCR impoundments at its coal-fired power plants. The documents can be found here.
The EIS is divided into two parts; Part 1 is a programmatic analysis that should generally apply to any CCR impoundment in the TVA system. Part 2 is an analysis of 10 site-specific ash impoundment closures, which integrates the findings and conclusions of Part 1.
The proposed and preferred closure method for the specific sites is the closure-in-place alternative, but the document also considers the impacts of closure-by-removal.
CCRs are byproducts produced from the combustion of coal or the control of combustion emissions and include fly ash, bottom ash, and other materials. The EIS supports TVA's goal to eliminate all wet CCR storage at its coal plants and to help TVA comply with EPA's CCR Rule.
TVA conducted extensive public outreach in preparing this document, including a public comment period that lasted more than 60 days and 10 open house meetings in communities near its fossil plants to allow the public to discuss the draft EIS and provide comments in person and online. TVA has addressed all substantive comments received during the comment period in the Final EIS.
Although not required, TVA will accept comments on the Final EIS through July 9, 2016.
For more information about TVA and its 83-year mission of service to the Tennessee Valley, visit: www.tva.gov/About-TVA.
TVA Public Relations