The Final Stack Falls

Final 1,000-foot stack implosion at Widows Creek moves project nearer to completion.

DECEMBER 3, 2020 — As part of the ongoing Widows Creek Fossil Plant demolition project, the final and largest stack, topping 1,000-feet, was safely imploded on Dec 3, with the help of demolition and environmental remediation contractor Brandenburg and their blasting subcontractor, Dykon.

The $66 million project, now 90 percent complete, is expected to return the Widow’s Creek site to brownfield status—saleable land ready for new development—by winter of 2021.

“We are focused on the end result, with safety always in mind,” said Vice President of Major Projects Roger Waldrep. “Getting this stack down is another milestone in delivering on our goal to restore this site for the area’s economic benefit.”

With an eye on reusing and recycling as much material as possible from the site’s demolition, the latest implosion allowed the team to again clean and process the concrete and steel that formed the stack. Once processed, the concrete will be used as fill material for the powerhouse basement and for overall site restoration, while the steel will be recycled.  

In addition, 100 percent of the metals once used for power production at Widows Creek will be recycled, with more than 80 percent going to Valley recyclers. More than 123,000 gross tons of metal have been removed from the site to date.

An Impressive Legacy

Situated on the Tennessee River in northeast Alabama, the Widows Creek Fossil Plant property spans approximately 1,500 acres. The plant began generating power in 1952 and employed approximately 600 full-time employees at its peak. For several decades, the plant boasted an eight-unit generation facility and was one of TVA’s largest fossil plants in the fleet, capable of producing 1,800 megawatts.

widows creek fossil plant stack before implosion

The final stack at Widows Creek Fossil Plant before implosion on December 3, 2020.

“I remember when I was little I’d sit out in the yard and listen to the plant’s dinner whistle blow,” said Robbie Rich, a Stevenson native who worked 17 years at the plant.  Rich started in 1999 as an instrument mechanic apprentice and left in 2015 as Widows Creek’s last plant manager. “I’ve lived my whole life in the shadow of that stack. It was a great job and I’d still be there if it was still there.”

Looking to the Future

Due to a changing regulatory and economic environment, the last of Widow's Creek's eight units—Unit 7—stopped producing power in October 2015. The site demolition project, led by TVA's decommissioning team and Brandenburg contractors, began work in the spring of 2018.

“Widows Creek Fossil leaves a long and impressive legacy of service to the people of the Tennessee Valley,” said John Bradley, Economic Development Senior Vice President. “For more than 60 years, through the hard work of hundreds of TVA employees, it generated reliable energy. Now, once the site is restored and available for new development, it will generate economic dividends for the region for years to come.”

TVA’s power portfolio continues to adapt in the face of changing industry, regulatory and customer demands. Today, the power we deliver is nearly 60 percent carbon-free. TVA’s work with community partners to build a stronger, more sustainable future is highlighted in its 2019 Sustainability Report

NOTE: Check back later today for video of the stack implosion.