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Wandell weighs in on Bull Run future

This morning, Anderson County Commission Chairman Tracy Wandell, in a lengthy post on his Facebook page, responded to TVA’s announcement Monday that it is recommending that the Bull Run Fossil Plant in Claxton be shut down by 2023. The full post is reprinted below.

(Anderson County Commission Chairman Tracy Wandell via Facebook) Bull Run Fossil (BRF)Steam plant has been in the press lately and also recently discussed by TVA to the City of Oak Ridge. I am very appreciative for the City of Oak Ridge to call for this meeting. I am also very appreciative of all of the County Commissioners who were in attendance as well as our other elected officials. No one was asked to attend but rather these individuals understand the importance of TVA Bull Run and what this means to our County and Region. Mayor Gooch and the Oak Ridge City council asked great questions. Mayor Gooch also gave me the chance to address TVA and I expressed my concerns regarding the potential closure of BRF. It became apparent to me during these discussions that there seems to be a real possibility that TVA could remove old coal ash storage and place into the proposed new landfill area.

This is the property TVA purchased land from our former home and land owners. Yes, the new landfill would be lined and met EPA requirements. However, the issue to me is that Bull Run would possibly shut down leaving our Community and future generations with now 3 large mountains of ash storage and no operating plant, loss of jobs and tax revenue. Our County Commission passed a resolution roughly 2 years ago in support of TVA building a Natural Gas plant at the BRF site to keep some jobs here and also keep the power here. This would also eliminate the production of coal ash. TVA has retrofitted other Coal fired plants and I believe they could do the same thing at BRF if the TVA Board would consider and approve.

I want to be very clear in that TVA BRF has always been a great Corporate citizen to our Community and County. Many of you may not be aware that the employees at BRF have for over 25 plus years donated Christmas baskets and Thanksgiving baskets to our Community every year. These types of gestures are not taken for granted and have made the difference in many lives over the years for the people and children in our Community. I will be traveling today to Chattanooga to attend the public listening session before TVA’s Board meeting tomorrow. This is not a funded trip by our County but a trip I am funding to ensure the TVA board understands our concerns and that we are represented. Everyone has different ideas and different concerns and I certainly understand that.

In my discussions and listening to our Community it seems to me that our Community should be at the table when a decision is made to the future of this Community and Region. If TVA will not build a Natural Gas plant and the only other option is to shut BRF down then I would suggest TVA to remediate the entire foot print of BRF property and also remove all of the coal ash off site to another location. Once the property is reclaimed to its original state best as possible it would be good to have the property available for potential new homes, industrial, or a school. If any of you have questions or comments please feel free to leave them here, text or call me at 865-388-0921. You may also email me direct at tlwandell@msn.com Thank you for your time reading and your input.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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  1. Did I understand one of the options if they close would be a landfill? We already have one would this be oak ridge trying to dump on us again? They continually put up large signs at their convenience center for oak ridge residents only not considering the trucks do not unload in oak ridge. If I’m mistaken please forgive me but family and friends were robbed of their land and homes they deserve a better consideration than this

  2. John Todd Waterman

    Thank you, Tracy, for all your mighty contributions to our welfare.
    I’d prefer, though, that TVA put Bull Run’s employees to work cleaning up its dangerous coal ash and reclaiming its land, and then installing solar panels and energy storage to utilize its switchyard and transmission lines, as EQAB Chair Robert Kennedy recommends below in the Oak Ridger. TVA has always taken care of its workers, and that experience would qualify them for jobs in the burgeoning solar industry, which has grown nationally at the phenomenal rate of 59% a year over the past decade. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported today that despite the hopefully temporary damage caused by the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese solar panels, in Tennessee the solar industry still grew 6.3% this past year, and now employs 4690 workers.
    The IPCC recently reported we have only 10-12 years to drastically reduce CO2 if we’re to avoid irreversible, catastrophic harm to our climate. A recent economic study in the journal Nature found the cost-benefit for transitioning off of fossil fuels to be 1-67. Not doing so would knock out up to 30% of World Per Capita GDP by century’s end. That doesn’t even consider the avoidable suffering and death of millions of our fellow humans and of other species.
    That makes climate mitigation the greatest readily-avoidable threat we humans have ever faced – and thus also the greatest opportunity we have ever been given to do profound, lasting good. Keeping Bull Run’s 3,000,000 tons, even at 1/3 capacity, of CO2 a year out of the atmosphere would be of tremendous benefit. Transitioning Bull Run to natural gas would reduce its terrible carbon footprint (though I understand the lack of a high-capacity gas line precludes that) – but only reducing it to zero will save us in the end.
    We already know how to do that, and for a truly bargain price. Let’s do it. Our children, our grandchildren, and all the future’s children will be eternally grateful.

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