The following is an editorial running in the Commercial Appeal as TVA’s response to a recent letter from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen questioning our commitment to remediate the former Allen Fossil Plant site in Memphis.
TVA has been a part of the Memphis community for more than 80 years. We are your neighbor and your community partner.
While there are many discussions underway about our future relationship with MLGW, that does not impact our commitment to the people of Memphis. This includes providing safe, clean, reliable and low-cost electricity; protecting our environment and natural resources; and creating job and business opportunities.
That commitment also includes the safe removal of coal ash which is underway at our former Allen Fossil Plant.
Our efforts to remove coal ash and remediate the Allen site are separate and apart from any discussion relating to MLGW.
The work to address the coal ash contained on the site is a regulatory driven process. It will continue until completed regardless of MLGW’s future decision. Throughout this process, TVA has worked closely with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), an independent agency, to safely expedite the process.
By way of background, until its retirement in 2018, the Allen Fossil Plant burned coal to provide energy to homes and businesses throughout Shelby County and Memphis. Once retired, it was replaced with the Allen Combined Cycle Natural Gas Plant, as well as a one megawatt solar farm.
During its operations, coal ash was generated and stored on the plant property. As part of the closure process and in preparation for the future re-use of the site for economic development purposes, TVA conducted an extensive environmental investigation under the direction of TDEC to inform next steps.
The proposed plan, which was presented during our November 2020 virtual open house and has since been submitted to TDEC for final approval, was developed under a thorough and public process. It includes safely removing the coal ash from onsite storage units at the Allen property to a secure, permanent offsite location and safely removing and treating any impacted, localized groundwater where the coal ash was stored.
TVA’s mission to protect the environment is further demonstrated by our robust groundwater monitoring program. At the former Allen Fossil Plant, more than 70 groundwater monitoring wells are evaluated regularly to ensure the continued protection of the Memphis aquifer, which is a precious natural resource and the primary drinking source for the greater Memphis area.
Removal of the coal ash will start later this year and is expected to take up to nine years. During this time, groundwater monitoring will continue. Removing and treating localized groundwater near the ash sites will begin in 2022 and continue until groundwater conditions meet target goals.
These extensive measures ensure the continued protection of the Memphis aquifer, which has not been impacted by activity at the Allen Fossil Plant. Although this is a regulatory process, we will work as quickly as possible while protecting the public, our workers, and the environment.
We will not waiver from our commitment to our neighbors to remediate the Allen site and protect important natural resources like the Memphis aquifer. We will do our part to repurpose the Allen site for the benefit of the community and to help provide future opportunities for generations to come. This is our commitment to you and it stands regardless of MLGW’s decision on a future energy supplier.
Bob Deacy is the Senior Vice President of General Projects and Fleet Services at TVA.