TVA decides coal-fired power plant waste more safely stored in place

The Tennessee Valley Authority will move forward with a plan to permanently and safely store coal ash and other coal combustion residuals on TVA property at 10 locations across the service area.

The decision released today follows a year-long review of the potential environmental impacts detailed in an Environmental Impact Statement, which addressed comments from 10 public open houses and additional opportunities for public input.

The EIS looked at two options for the future of CCR storage, closure-in-place and closure-by-removal. The preferred option for the 10 impoundments is closure-in-place.

“Based on our analyses and decades of available monitoring data, we believe that TVA’s CCR management activities are not harming human health or the environment,” said John McCormick, TVA vice president of Safety, River Management and Environment.

“We also found that digging up the coal ash and moving it someplace else has more potential environmental and safety impacts than closure-in-place and adds significantly more time and costs for our ratepayers,” he added.

Closing CCR impoundments in place involves removing moisture from the material then adding a liner system, or cap, on top to keep rainwater out. The impoundments will continue to be monitored for at least 30 years as part of our robust program at each of our fossil sites.

Studies by TVA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirm that this capping system will further reduce potential impacts on groundwater and helps protect the structural stability of the material. EPA also noted in its CCR rule that closure-in-place could be just as safe as removal.

“EPA concluded that TVA’s responses to its comments on the draft EIS were acceptable and did not identify any deficiencies in the information we provided,” McCormick said.

TVA also received no objections from federal, state or local agencies to closing impoundments in place.

This action supports TVA’s stated goal of eliminating all wet CCR storage at its coal plants and will meet the federal CCR Rule.

TVA is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.

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