August/September 2009

Report is ‘tough medicine’

TVA is committed to being a national leader in technological
innovation, low-cost power and environmental stewardship.

President & Chief Executive Officer Tom Kilgore used those words to describe a report by McKenna Long & Aldridge, the independent firm hired to conduct an investigation into the management and organizational factors that may have contributed to the Kingston Fossil Plant ash spill Dec. 22, 2008. MLA presented its report at the TVA Board’s July meeting.

“Tough medicine is hard to swallow, but we’re taking it in order to get better,” Kilgore says. “The report identifies many shortcomings and missed opportunities in our organizational effectiveness. It is not easy to listen to these descriptions of our shortcomings. But we have listened, and we will continue to listen so we can remedy all of our ills.”

The MLA report is part of TVA’s two-pronged approach to identifying and addressing factors behind the ash spill. The MLA report reviewed management issues. Engineering issues are identified in the root-cause analysis by the geotechnical engineering firm AECOM Inc. and the subsequent assessment of all TVA ash storage ponds by Stantec, Inc.

As a result of the MLA report, the board directed management to develop a comprehensive remediation plan to eliminate deficiencies in systems, standards, controls and corporate culture that MLA identified. The remediation plan will be presented to the board at its August meeting.

What TVA will do

“I am pleased that the report notes that we have moved quickly to act on some of the identified deficiencies, but we need to do more,” Kilgore says. “To move us toward the necessary improvements in our practices, procedures, organization and our culture, we will use the six guidelines listed in the board’s resolution that cites TVA’s commitment to being a national leader in technological innovation, low-cost power and environmental stewardship.” They are:

1. Develop a Fossil Remediation Plan that covers the Kingston clean-up and all other TVA ash ponds. The plan will include cost estimates that address health, safety and environmental risks.
2. Hire a top-notch national firm to conduct an organizational assessment with a particular eye on the culture change to achieve excellence in our fossil environmental functions and throughout TVA.
3. Develop an Enterprise Risk Management plan that identifies top financial and non-financial risks.
4. Review plans covering environmental, health and safety compliance to ensure design functions, operational procedures and maintenance practices do not allow undetected risks such as occurred at Kingston.
5. Create a compliance and performance assessment group, similar to the Office of Inspector General, to ensure TVA’s compliance programs, activities and functions use best practices or established standards.
6. Set up a situation alert process using state-of-the-art communication technologies to inform the CEO and other key employees of incidents that could have significant impact on TVA.

Access the full MLA report or the board’s resolution

See the AECOM root cause analysis

 

 

 

“It is not easy to listen to these descriptions of our shortcomings. But we have listened, and we will continue to listen so we can remedy all of our ills.”

— Tom Kilgore