TVA to write enviro review on coal ash disposal at Shawnee plant in Kentucky

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will announce in the Nov. 1 Federal Register that it intends to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to address the potential environmental effects associated with ceasing operations at the special waste landfill and Ash Pond 2 and constructing, operating, and maintaining a new dry coal combustion residual (CCR) landfill at the Shawnee Fossil Plant (SHF) located near Paducah, Kentucky.

The purpose of the proposed project is to foster TVA’s compliance with present and future regulatory requirements related to CCR production and management, including the requirements of EPA’s CCR Rule and Effluent Limitations Guidelines Rule. In the environmental review, TVA will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of closure of the special waste landfill and Ash Pond 2 as well as the construction, operation, and maintenance of an onsite dry CCR landfill or disposal of CCR in an existing offsite permitted landfill.

Public comments are invited by Dec. 1 concerning both the scope of the review and environmental issues that should be addressed.

Historically, TVA has managed its CCRs in wet impoundments or dry landfills. Currently, SHF consumes an average of 3,880,165 tons of coal per year, generates approximately 8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year and produces approximately 256,000 tons of CCR a year which are managed in an existing special waste landfill and a pond (Ash Pond 2). In July 2009, the TVA Board of Directors passed a resolution for staff to review TVA practices for storing CCRs at its generating facilities, including SHF, which resulted in a recommendation to convert the wet ash management system at SHF to a dry storage system.

In April 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the final Disposal of CCRs from Electric Utilities rule. In June 2016, TVA issued a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) that analyzed methods for closing impoundments that hold CCR materials at TVA fossil plants and identified specific screening and evaluation factors to help frame its evaluation of closures at additional facilities. A Record of Decision was released in July 2016 that would allow future environmental reviews of CCR impoundment closures to tier from the PEIS.

This new EIS is intended to tier from the 2016 PEIS to evaluate the closure alternatives for the existing CCR Ash Pond 2 impoundment and additionally analyze the impacts of the closure of the existing special waste landfill, and construction, operation, and maintenance of a new on-site special waste landfill to accommodate future dry CCR disposal actions. TVA has determined that either the construction of a new CCR storage area or hauling CCR to an existing permitted landfill are the most reasonable alternatives. TVA will also consider closure alternatives for the existing special waste landfill in accordance with EPA’s CCR Rule.

No decision has been made about CCR management at SHF beyond the current operations and available onsite capacity. TVA is preparing this EIS to inform decision makers, other agencies and the public about the potential for environmental impacts associated with the decision on how to manage CCR generated at SHF.

TVA anticipates holding a community meeting near the plant after releasing the Draft EIS.  TVA expects to release the Draft EIS in summer 2017.

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.