TVA picks top option for Bull Run coal waste disposal

The Tennessee Valley Authority said Dec. 1 that it is proposing to expand the capacity for managing and storing coal combustion residuals at Bull Run Fossil Plant near Clinton, Tennessee.

TVA has committed to convert the handling and storage of coal ash and other byproducts of burning coal from a wet system to dry at all its fossil sites, including Bull Run. As part of that process, TVA evaluated numerous sites on TVA property around Bull Run for a new dry storage landfill.

In a final Environmental Impact Statement released Dec. 1, TVA considered the potential environmental impacts of a new landfill, as well as two other alternatives – hauling the CCR materials to a permitted landfill off-site, and a “no action” alternative in which TVA would not consider additional options for long-term storage of CCR at the plant. The proposed project and final EIS are independent of a separate CCR impoundment closure recently completed at Bull Run.

The Bull Run Fossil Plant (BRF) is located in Anderson County, Tennessee, about 5 miles east of downtown Oak Ridge and 13 miles west of Knoxville. BRF was built between 1962 and 1966, and commercial operation began in 1967. BRF is the only single-generator coal-fired power plant in the TVA system and has a summer net capability of 863 MW. Winter net-dependable generating capacity is about 881 MW. BRF has state-of-the-art air pollution controls and is one of the coal plants that TVA plans to continue operating in the future as identified in TVA’s latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

Historically, TVA has managed storage of CCR materials in ash impoundments or dry landfills. In an effort to modernize the facility and comply with TVA’s commitment to manage CCRs on a dry basis, TVA completed the construction of a mechanical dewatering facility at BRF in 2014 to manage bottom ash and gypsum using a dry stack basis. TVA had already been handling and storing fly ash on a dry basis, so there were no changes to that process as a result of the transfer to dry storage. These bottom ash and gypsum materials are disposed on-site at the current Dry Fly Ash Stack located east of the plant.

Based on current estimates of energy production and consumption rates, on-site storage capacity will be expended within 10 years. Therefore, TVA needs to identify additional storage capacity for the long-term disposal of the dry CCR materials (fly ash, bottom ash and gypsum) produced at BRF.

In 2011, TVA performed a siting study to evaluate on-site and off-site alternatives for the construction of a landfill for storage of CCR from BRF which identified eight alternative landfill sites. TVA also identified the off-site transport of CCR to an existing landfill as a potential alternative for management of CCR generated at BRF. The impact of development and/or use of each of these sites were further evaluated against 34 environmental and engineering factors to determine those sites that should be carried over for further analysis in the EIS.

In addition to a No-Action alternative which served as a baseline, TVA considered construction of a landfill on property adjacent to BRF and off-site transport of CCR to an existing permitted landfill as potential alternatives for disposal of CCR generated at BRF.

  • Under Alternative B, TVA would construct and operate a landfill for disposal of CCRs generated at the plant on TVA-owned property located approximately 0.4 miles east of BRF. This site, known as Site J, encompasses 119.9 acres and includes perimeter roads, borrow stockpile and laydown areas and sediment ponds with the landfill footprint of approximately 60 acres. The landfill would provide approximately 15.5 years of disposal capacity based on estimated energy production and consumption rates and would be designed to meet the CCR rule requirements for new landfill development. Development of Site J would also include construction of a dedicated on-site haul road to convey dry CCR from the plant to the landfill.
  • Under Alternative C, CCR from BRF would be transported to an existing off-site permitted landfill. The analysis of impacts associated with this alternative are based on the closest landfill that can currently accept CCR material. The Chestnut Ridge Landfill is a Class 1 Municipal Solid Waste Facility located approximately 12 miles northeast of BRF. Under this Alternative, CCR generated at BRF would be transported by over-the-road tandem dump trucks on existing roadways to the Chestnut Ridge Landfill for disposal. While barge and rail transport were considered in the Siting Study, they were not considered feasible options for this EIS given the lack of existing infrastructure at BRF and the proximity of Chestnut Ridge to BRF.

TVA has identified Alternative B – Construct and Operate a Landfill for Storage of CCR on TVA Property Adjacent to BRF (Site J) as the preferred alternative. Alternative C, would result in few impacts to the natural environment associated with construction of a landfill, because it would utilize an existing, permitted landfill. However, Alternative C would also require the offsite transport of CCR. Transport of CCR would occur daily (during a typical five-day work week) over an approximate 15-year period.

Alternative B is preferred because it would achieve the purpose and need of the project, the environmental impact of constructing a new, on-site landfill would be minor and/or temporary, and the location would avoid the off-site transport of CCR along public roads, as well as the air emissions, noise emissions, long-term safety risks and disruptions to the public that would be associated with the long-term off-site transport of CCR along public roadways.

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.