Environmental Stewardship at Gallatin
TVA takes environmental stewardship seriously; it is an important part of our mission of service. At Gallatin—as with every other fossil plant—that means assuring air and water quality are maintained at high levels.
TVA has completed a number of steps to improve air quality at Gallatin Fossil Plant, making a $1 billion investment in air quality measures:
- The plant has historically used low-sulfur blend coal, which limits emissions of sulfur dioxide. With new environmental controls that are in place, TVA has the ability to burn a wider range of coal and still meet permit requirements.
- The plant is equipped with pulsejet fabric filter bag houses to capture fine particulate matter.
- Low-NOx burners on site limit the production of nitrogen oxides.
- In support of environmental agreements and to comply with regulations, TVA added dry scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) units on all four units at Gallatin. The dry scrubbers went into full operation in February 2016. The SCRs went into operation in 2017.
- The new air quality measures at Gallatin Fossil Plant significantly reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
All of these actions meet or exceed current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements. Read more about air quality efforts at Gallatin—and view all the supporting data—on our Gallatin Fossil Plant Emissions page.
Cumberland River Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality
TVA periodically collects and analyzes biological data upstream and downstream of its power plants, including Gallatin, to assess the health and structure of the aquatic communities that our operations could possibly impact. These data include monitoring of the fish, benthic macroinvertebrate (aquatic insect) communities and wildlife visual encounter surveys along the shoreline.
Fish community data are analyzed using the Reservoir Fish Assemblage Index, a series of 12 ecological health-assessment measures. Benthic samples are analyzed using the Reservoir Benthic Index, a similar series of seven health-assessment measures. For each analysis, the individual measures are scored and summed, and these totals provide comparative determinations of the ecological health of the respective fish and aquatic insect communities.
Since 2001, the fish communities in the areas upstream and downstream and within the potential influence zone of Gallatin operations have rated "good” or "fair." The health of the benthic community at downstream sites was demonstrated to be similar or more favorable than upstream sites for each sample year. These results indicate that Gallatin operations are not having an adverse impact on the aquatic community in the Cumberland River near the plant.
TVA operates its Gallatin facility in compliance with water quality standards and permits issued by the State of Tennessee. Water quality samples show that this stretch of Old Hickory Reservoir meets all requirements for domestic and industrial purposes; propagation and maintenance of fish and other aquatic life; recreation in and on the water, including the safe consumption of fish and shellfish; livestock watering and irrigation; navigation; generation of power; propagation and maintenance of wildlife; and the enjoyment of the scenic and aesthetic qualities of water.
Gallatin also holds permits that guide the handling of its wastewater and stormwater; read more about them here.
In 2009, TVA committed to convert all of its wet coal ash management facilities to dry ash management at a potential cost of $1.5 to $2 billion.
At Gallatin, TVA is operating a dry ash landfill that was completed in 2016 and is now studying the potential to construct a lateral expansion to that onsite landfill. Work is being done on closure of the active wet pond ash management system to comply with U.S. EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals rule. Read more about Gallatin Coal Combustion Residuals.
In accordance with its discharge permit issued by the state, TVA regularly performs maintenance inspections. The ash pond dikes have been thoroughly evaluated, and there are no issues with the stability or integrity of the plant’s current ash ponds.
TVA has an ongoing monitoring program at the Gallatin site to study the groundwater in the area surrounding Gallatin Fossil Plant. These studies have concluded that groundwater impacts are limited, and are predicted to remain limited in the future. The recent 2018 Groundwater Assessment Report was published in March 2019, summarizing the latest results of the ongoing groundwater monitoring at the site as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule. The CCR Rule requires companies operating coal-fired power plants to study whether constituents in CCR have been released to groundwater from active, inactive and new CCR impoundments, as well as active and new CCR landfills.
In addition, the work that TVA is conducting under an Environmental Investigation Plan (EIP) under the direction of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) will continue to provide additional information about the Gallatin Fossil Plant site. These investigative studies, which have been ongoing since mid-2016, have provided additional information on stability, background soil, CCR material characteristics and quantities, water balance, groundwater, fish tissue and the biological and sediment characteristics at the lowest parts of bodies of water in the area.
On June 13, 2019, TVA gave a public update which included the history of environmental stewardship, current environmental investigations and expected final condition of Gallatin Fossil Plant. View the presentation.
Gallatin Reduces Plant Footprint with New Water System
A new water management system for coal combustion residuals will reduce the future plant footprint of Gallatin Fossil Plant from 435 acres to three — a key step in transitioning from traditional wet ash handling to a state-of-the-art dry handling and storage landfill. Read more.
Cumberland River Aquatic Center
As part of its environmental stewardship efforts at Gallatin Fossil Plant, TVA built a state-of-the-art center dedicated to the study and preservation of the aquatic fauna of the Cumberland River. Find out more.