When TVA retires a power plant, things tend to slow down a bit at the location. But that’s not the case at our former Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis. Although we retired the plant in March 2018, there is still a lot going on, and some decisions are to be made about the future of the property. And TVA wants your input.
Right now is the time for anyone interested in the future of the Allen Fossil Plant to weigh in on the first step of the decision-making process regarding coal ash at the site. TVA is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to consider the potential environmental effects of various options for the closure of the ash impoundments at Allen. TVA will evaluate options for closure of the ash areas at Allen to include, but not limited to, closure by removal and closure in place. This will support TVA’s commitment to eliminate wet storage of coal combustion residuals (CCR) across our service area, and also support economic development opportunities for Memphis.
It is estimated that approximately 250,000 cubic yards of CCR material are remaining in the West Ash impoundment with approximately 2.7 million cubic yards of material in the East Ash Impoundment. The West Ash Impoundment was the original fly ash impoundment for Allen. This area does not currently receive CCR, is considered closed-in-place, and has already been dewatered. This EIS will re-evaluate that status for potential closure-by-removal. Under the No Action Alternative, TVA assumes it would not close any of the surface impoundments at the Allen Fossil Plant. This alternative is included to provide a baseline for potential environmental impacts.
The public can submit comments through Jan. 31, 2019, on what should be included in the planned environmental study of coal ash storage at Allen Fossil Plant near Memphis. The public can submit comments online at tva.com/nepa, by email to [email protected], and in writing to Ashley Farless, NEPA Compliance Specialist, 1101 Market Street, BR4A-C, Chattanooga, TN 37402.
At the same time, TVA is working with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to address arsenic contamination found in shallow monitoring wells around one of the ash storage areas, the East Ash impoundment. TVA intends to remove the arsenic by pumping out the water in the alluvial aquifer and capturing the contaminants. If you pass by the fossil plant site in December, you might see workers setting up equipment to prepare for this process.
You might also see crews installing new monitoring wells around the site as part of an extensive Environmental Investigation Plan under the direction of a 2015 order from TDEC. This order encompasses seven sites where TVA stores CCR in Tennessee, including Allen. The investigation plan specifies how TVA and TDEC will determine the environmental impacts of the CCR, including impacts on surface water, groundwater, and soil. This is not directly related to the remediation of arsenic found in shallow monitoring wells around the East Ash impoundment.
Crews are also at the site working to recover, with intentions to sell, as much of the unused coal is still left at the site. There is an estimated 30,000 tons of coal that could be sold from the Allen site.
And finally, it is important to reiterate that TVA has committed to not using the wells in the Memphis Sand Aquifer at the Allen Combined Cycle natural gas plant, a half-mile away from the fossil plant. Repeated testing has shown no evidence of contamination in those wells, nor in the city’s drinking water, which comes from the Memphis Sand Aquifer. TVA is purchasing all the water necessary for the gas plant from MLGW.