While coal combustion residuals are non-hazardous and beneficial, more CCR is generated than can be beneficially reused and decades' worth of material is stored at current and former plant sites.
Following the 2008 accident at our Kingston Fossil Plant, we re-focused our efforts on several key safety areas:
Following the 2008 accident at the Kingston Fossil Plant, we added all our CCR impoundments, specifically the dikes, at every location, to our dam safety program. We evaluated every one of them using modern dam safety standards and made improvements where needed.
We monitor our ash storage facilities 24/7, 365 to ensure there are no safety or environmental issues.
The TVA board committed in 2009 that we would convert all our systems from wet to dry handling and storage. TVA was an industry leader in that conversion, and we are almost finished. The process is complete at many of our sites.
We are focused on safe management of process water, which is water from plant operations, storm runoff and such, and are developing alternative treatment systems, as part of our conversion from wet to dry ash storage.
We continue to evaluate the best options for coal combustion residuals storage on a site-by-site basis and will include the community’s input in any final decisions.
According to the EPA, both closure-in-place and closure-by-removal can be safe while protecting the environment. We are considering these two options on a site-specific basis.
Closure-in-place involves removing most of the water from the ash, stabilizing the CCR in place and installing a waterproof cover system including soil and vegetation. This keeps new sources of water from mixing with the CCR and reduces risks of structural instability and groundwater contamination.
Closure-by-removal involves removing the water from the ash, digging up and moving the material to a permitted, lined landfill – either onsite or offsite. The old impoundment is then reshaped and filled. Closure-by-removal is a more involved process that takes longer than closure-in-place, depending on the size of the impoundment area.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires groundwater monitoring of active, inactive and new CCR impoundments and active and new CCR landfills. In addition, states have their own groundwater monitoring requirements.
TVA complies with all federal and state regulations pertaining to groundwater. We continue to study and evaluate groundwater at all our sites and are proactively sharing that information with federal and state regulators and the public. We will take appropriate action if remediation of groundwater is necessary.
In March 2019, we posted the latest annual groundwater monitoring reports for each of our CCR sites in accordance with the EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals Rule. The data does not reflect the quality of municipal public drinking water supplies, which are regularly tested to confirm they are meeting safe drinking water standards. Public drinking water is not impacted at any of our coal ash sites.
TVA is sharing results of new groundwater monitoring samples taken at its coal combustion residuals sites to identify areas for more study and possible action.
For more information:
CCR Rule Groundwater Monitoring Facts