TVA to move forward with closure-in-place plan for coal waste sites

The Tennessee Valley Authority announced July 29 that it 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 its service area.

This decision 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.”            

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.

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, TVA said. 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 said it 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.

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.