TVA readies enviro review for more coal waste storage at Bull Run power plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority said in a notice to be published in the May 21 Federal Register that it plans to write an environmental impact statement (EIS) to address the continued disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) from the Bull Run Fossil Plant (BRF).

Comments on the scope of the EIS must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than July 6.

TVA is in the process of converting its handling of CCR from wet systems to dry systems across its coal-fired system. In September 2012, TVA decided to construct a mechanical dewatering facility at BRF. This facility is currently under construction and will allow TVA to manage bottom ash and gypsum using a dry stack basis. Fly ash generated at BRF is already being handled and stored on a dry basis. TVA needs to plan for the future management of material since existing storage capacity for dry stack CCRs at Bull Run is limited.

TVA proposes to construct a new dry storage area on TVA property adjacent to BRF. BRF has state-of-the-art air pollution controls and is one of TVA’s coal plants that is planned to continue to operate in the future.

This proposal would be consistent with TVA’s voluntary commitment to convert wet CCR management systems to dry systems. This also would help TVA comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently issued Coal Combustion Residuals Rule.

Alternative site locations for a CCR storage suitable for meeting TVA’s needs and objectives will be considered under the EIS. However, based on preliminary analysis there are unlikely to be any other alternatives that have fewer impacts than the proposed location adjacent to Bull Run, TVA noted. Additionally, the EIS will consider a “No Action” Alternative under which TVA would not seek additional storage capacity for CCR for Bull Run.

After consideration of the comments received during this scoping period, TVA will develop and distribute a document that will summarize public and agency comments that were received and identify the issues and alternatives to be addressed in the EIS and identify the schedule for completing the EIS process. Following analysis of the issues, TVA will prepare a draft EIS for public review and comment. The public, governmental agencies, and recognized Native American tribes will be invited to submit comments on the draft EIS. TVA expects to release a draft EIS in Summer 2016 and the final EIS in 2017.

Construction on Bull Run, located near Oak Ridge, Tenn., began in 1962 and was completed in 1967. Bull Run has one coal-fired unit with a summer net capability of 870 MW. The plant consumes about 7,300 tons of coal per day.

The Bull Run project is part of a broader CCR program

TVA said in its May 1 quarterly Form 10-Q report that this CCR program grew out of a notorious spill a few years ago of coal ash at its Kingston coal plant in Tennessee: “As a result of the December 2008 ash spill at Kingston, TVA retained an independent third-party engineering firm to perform a multi-phased evaluation of the overall stability and safety of all existing embankments associated with TVA’s wet coal combustion residual (‘CCR’) facilities. The study showed the ongoing remediation work being done at the plants should bring all of them within industry standards in terms of stability upon completion. Implementation of recommended actions is ongoing, including risk mitigation steps such as performance monitoring, designing and completing repairs, developing planning documents, obtaining permits, and generally implementing the lessons learned from the Kingston ash spill at TVA’s other CCR facilities.

“TVA is converting its wet ash and gypsum facilities to dry storage collection facilities. The CCR conversion program runs through CY 2022, with the exception of the new landfill at Shawnee to accommodate the addition of air pollution controls.

“The expected cost of the CCR work is between $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion. As of March 31, 2015, $680 million of costs had been incurred since the start of the work. Included in the program is the conversion of wet ash and gypsum facilities to dry storage collection. Conversion projects are currently planned at Kingston, Shawnee, Gallatin Fossil Plant, Cumberland Fossil Plant, and Paradise. TVA will continue to undertake CCR projects past 2022 in order to support long-term plant generation, including projects to build new landfills, expand landfills, and close landfills.

“The EPA published a final rule related to CCRs in April 2015 which will regulate landfill and impoundment location, design and operations; require pond closures, structural integrity, and groundwater monitoring; and describe beneficial reuse. Although the rule will become effective October 14, 2015, certain provisions have later effective dates. TVA is in the process of evaluating the impact of the new rules on the projected schedules and costs related to fossil unit operations and ash pond closures.

“As part of TVA’s overall commitment to convert from wet to dry storage at all its facilities that will continue to operate after 2017, TVA has proposed to build a bottom ash dewatering facility at Kingston. If the dewatering facility is built, it would convert Kingston’s coal byproducts storage system to an onsite dry landfill. Because of the 2008 ash spill at Kingston, TVA feels it important to eliminate wet storage at Kingston as quickly as possible, and the dewatering facility is the final step in a permanent solution.

“TVA is studying the adequacy of CCR storage capacity at its coal-fired plants that currently have dry storage collection facilities. If it is determined that the remaining capacity is not adequate, additional storage facilities will need to be permitted and built, or off-site disposal will need to be arranged. TVA is also responding to the EPA’s questions on seismic and liquefaction qualification for its facilities. The analyses have been successfully completed and accepted by the EPA for eight of 11 active plant sites, and the studies are still underway at the three remaining sites. The expected completion for all three is by the end of CY 2015.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.