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TVA seeks public comment on Bull Run ash storage changes

TVA is proposing changes to its previous plans for closure of the main ash impoundment at Bull Run Fossil Plant to support a wastewater treatment project at the site in Claxton.

In an announcement Monday, TVA says that it is asking the public to comment on those revisions in a draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) issued on April 22. That document is available at www.tva.com/nepa.

According to additional information provided by TVA to County Commission Chairman and Claxton Commissioner Tracy Wandell, who in turn shared it with WYSH, “the changes are NOT considered a final solution for the permanent storage at the main ash impoundment. The proposed closure in place of the ash impoundment will allow TVA to construct an interim process water basin on top of the existing ash impoundment until a permanent solution is approved.”

The revised draft SEA will consider the potential environmental impacts of several alternatives for closure of the main ash impoundment. The project, according to the announcement, would include turning a portion of the impoundment into a temporary process water basin during construction of a permanent basin for wastewater and storm water at the site. The basin collects surface water from rain runoff, snowmelt, and the groundwater underneath the earth’s surface.

The current stilling pond (defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a depression in a channel or reservoir deep enough to reduce the velocity or turbulence of the flow”) would be closed, with ash removed to an existing onsite landfill, and then turned into the permanent process water basin.

In Monday’s release, TVA says that it “proposes this interim action to close the main ash impoundment in place with a temporary cover until a permanent solution is approved by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.”

A cap and cover closure system is pending review by TDEC.

The changes are an interim action and are detailed in a revised draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment posted Monday as well.

These plans are subject to TDEC approval and change based on the outcome of an Environmental Investigation Plan under way through a TDEC order.

Details of that plan are available at www.tva.com/BullRunEIP.

No public meetings are currently scheduled to solicit feedback from the public, but comments will be accepted online and through the mail.

Comments will be accepted through May 13, 2019 and can be submitted:

  • online at www.tva.com/nepa,
  • by email to arfarless@tva.gov,
  • and in writing to Ashley Farless, NEPA Specialist, Tennessee Valley Authority, 1101 Market Street, BR2C-C, Chattanooga, TN 37402

Please note that any comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the project administrative record and will be available for public inspection.

TVA is revising its earlier plans, which included removing some of the ash to a lined landfill, because of safety concerns related to the fine-grain material in the storage area.

In a previous revision to the Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA), TVA had proposed to remove a portion of the main ash impoundment to an onsite landfill, with that area being repurposed for a process water basin. However, further study and work on Process Water Basin One determined “the material in the main ash impoundment is finer than expected, creating safety hazards for workers and the environment, and issues in complying with our storm water discharge permit.”

The revised draft SEA includes an opportunity for public input through May 13. TVA officials say that they encourage public participation in this process.”

TVA’s board voted in February to retire Bull Run Fossil Plant by Dec. 2023. TVA is committed to protecting human health and the environment. That commitment will not change when Bull Run is retired.

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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