An ash pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal-fired plant in New Johnsonville is getting a close look from officials.
The Tennessean reports that TVA, the nation’s largest utility, is reviewing how it deals with coal ash after a massive spill at its Kingston power plant in East Tennessee in December.
That spill, which happened when a retaining wall broke, sent a billion gallons of coal ash sludge flooding into a neighborhood and the Emory River.
TVA is examining how it deals with coal ash at all 11 of its coal-fired plants. The pond in New Johnsonville — on the Tennessee River about 75 miles west of Nashville — is smaller than the one in Kingston that burst in December.
But the TVA notified a state advisory group that there could be problems with the dike surrounding the ash pond there.
It was the only one of its seven plants in Tennessee considered a “top priority” in TVA’s discussions at a Feb. 13 meeting, said Glen Pugh, solid waste program manager with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
“There was some concern about the dikes that surround the ash pond,” Pugh said. “This is the one they are going back to do some invasive investigations to determine the structural integrity of those dikes.”
In addition to the Tennessee coal-fired plants, TVA has two in Kentucky and two in Alabama. Its Widows Creek plant in northeastern Alabama had a smaller spill in January.
TVA has taken steps to address the issues at New Johnsonville, said TVA spokesman John Moulton. He said the plan includes monitoring the clear-water seepage, more in-depth engineering analysis and plans to build new permanent spillways.
John Kammeyer, a TVA vice president helping oversee the review, said TVA is applying more stringent standards in reviewing ponds and dikes at its facilities. In the past, the dikes holding back the ash ponds were built and inspected to industry standards.
TVA is now using state and federal dam standards to both inspect and assess the structural integrity of the ponds.
TVA has about 8.8 million consumers in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
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