OCTOBER 29, 2019 — On October 8, 2019, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) leadership held a public information meeting at Mitchell Community Center in Southeast Memphis to speak with local residents about their hopes and concerns surrounding the Allen Fossil Plant. TVA presented a draft Environmental Impact Statement which will look at the potential environmental effects of various options for the removal of coal ash stored at the site. The EIS highlights TVA’s support of eliminating all wet CCR storage at its coal plants by closing CCR surface impoundments across the TVA system.
Earlier this year, TVA extended its first public comment period on the scope of the planned environmental study of coal ash at the Allen Fossil Plant. This event marks the second time this year that TVA has visited residence around the Mitchell Community Center.
“I had no idea it would take this long,” said Sue Moresi, one of the community attendees to the public information meeting. "But I'm thrilled to see plans for the removal of the waste."
Moresi studied each of the detailed graphs placed around Mitchell's community center, stopping several times to ask questions of TVA representatives.
Allen, a power plant adjacent to President’s Island in southern Shelby County and over 500-acres in size, has a long history in the Memphis community and with TVA. Originally leased in 1955 by TVA from Memphis Light Gas and Water and finally purchased in 1984, TVA has been a steward of the expansive property for over 60 years.
Over the years, coal ash was moved from the plant using water to ponds where it was stored wet. There are two ponds (East & West) on the Allen property, where those coal combustion residuals were stored.
The proposed plan includes the dismantling of the Allen Fossil plant and the restoration of the site for repurposing. It also posited options for the removal of the ash via rail, barge, and truck transport after it finishes drying the wet ash it is extracted from the pond.
The overall process will be three-pronged (1) to remove the water above the ash in the in ponds, (2) to remove the water in the ash, and (3) finally to carefully and thoughtfully remove the ash itself for transport.
Angela Austin is the construction manager for the Allen site and is a local Memphian. Described by TVA president and CEO Jeff Lyash as the “boots on the ground” for the project, she and her team have been working to ensure the property is restored to a “best of industry” standard to bring even more economic value to the area.
Currently, a great deal of work is going into draining the East Pond. In just two weeks, nearly three million gallons of free water—water above the ash—has already been removed.
Public input from Memphians and others, including those that attend the open houses, is an important part of the ultimate decision on what will happen with the coal ash.
“We want to look at locations that will have the least impact on neighborhoods if we are going to truck the ash,” said TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks. “As far as the site, our goal is to get the property in a condition where it can be reused.”
Some community members like Linda Street, President of the Walker Home Association, planned to take all of her notes back to her neighbors and share her findings in her weekly newsletter, while State Representative Barbara Cooper came to pose questions for constituents who could not attend and provide more in-depth explanations at future district town halls.
"This presentation was very informative," said Street.
TVA is seeking public comment on its environmental impact statement through November 25, 2019. It will continue drafting the environmental impact statement, which will be available for public comment a minimum of 45 days before the final statement is published. After a 30-day period, TVA will determine the most viable option to manage the coal ash – a decision that could come as earlier as the spring of 2020.