Waste (ash) Specialist | Chattanooga, Tenn.
From deep underground to a bubbling spring into a creek, then into a river system monitored by TVA and eventually into the ocean, groundwater is an important source for our bodies of water — both near and far. There’s a lot involved with protecting the source of this essential asset. Just ask TVA Waste (ash) Specialist, Dominic Norman.
Whether it’s ensuring that TVA projects comply with federal and state environmental policies or reporting any-and-all projects that could impact groundwater to the State regulatory agencies across the Valley, Dominic and his team are on the job. He juggles a myriad of permits and helps to mediate the relationship between TVA’s internal and external stakeholders, including Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR), various project teams, and State compliance groups.
“My goal is to support TVA’s trajectory in creating clean energy and doing what’s right for the Valley and its resources,” Dominic said. “Finalizing all of the many required permits can take many years, but I’m dedicated to helping strengthen these partnerships and ensuring we use the most environmentally sound practices.”
As part of TVA’s better improvement program, Dominic and his coworkers in the Environmental group are responsible for helping TVA’s retiring coal plants, ponds and landfills transition into an environmentally and socially responsible closure that could include using innovative reuse methods for their leftover coal ash waste. His work benefits both his coworkers and stakeholders across the Valley and helps safeguard the aquatic health of communities throughout the service region.
“Ash waste can affect groundwater if it’s not disposed of properly,” he said. “Since groundwater will eventually become part of our local rivers and reservoirs, our work in this area can affect the health of the water TVA monitors — impacting our rivers and aquatic life in the long run. It all fits together, so it’s crucial that we get it right.”
Football and Microbreweries
Dominic, his wife Abby and their pup Brindee have settled comfortably in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but he admits that the culture of his hometown and country — near Brighton on the South Coast of England — still calls to him. The beauty and diversity of the community as well as the sport, history, architecture and the food like proper fish and chips and good curries (the national dish of England), along with his extended family are what he misses the most. And yes, maybe even the dry, usually sarcastic and cheeky, English sense of humor.
“The area around Brighton — specifically the South Downs — is the best part of England. People might disagree with me, but they’re wrong,” he laughed. “Although obviously I may be a little biased.”
To keep a sense of home close to his heart, Dominic spends his vacation time traveling back to England and to new destinations (like India, Peru or Cyprus). He also spends time with his family and playing soccer (“real football”) both locally and with his brother on a team out of Knoxville that travels for tournaments, and he’s a proud member of the Chattahooligans.
Another favorite pastime with his wife is visiting microbreweries. A couple of their local favorites are Mad Knight Brewing Company in St. Elmo and Chattanooga’s geologically themed Hutton & Smith.
Changing of the Guard
Before moving to the United States in 2002 to work in the environmental and groundwater industries, Dominic attended Royal Holloway University of London for his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geology and the University of Southampton in England for his master’s degree in Integrated Environmental Science, which allowed him to pursue his dream of traveling the world — which was a big reason he chose to study geology in the first place.
After receiving his degrees, he moved to Southern California and worked as an environmental consultant for two years, then did an almost-two-year stint helping perform a deep groundwater characterization study at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Dominic then moved into the mining industry and worked as a hydrogeologist with the principal goals of dewatering the mines and improving the slope stability, allowing the mine workers to mine more ore in a safer environment. This job allowed him to continue feeding his travel bug and sent him bouncing around Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and then further afield to places such as Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Canada and South America.
“At one point I was stationed in Arizona for three years, but was only physically there for one,” he said. “I was constantly flying in and out, never really anywhere long enough to establish a meaningful relationship. When I slowed down at the end of my time in Arizona though, I met Abby through playing soccer.”
It wasn’t until Dominic’s brother, Darren and his wife had his first niece that he and Abby decided to leave the desert behind and move to Chattanooga to be closer to them. When he first got here, he worked for an engineering consulting firm with TVA as his primary client for three and a half years before becoming an official member of the Environmental team last April.
Dominic has been at TVA for nearly a year now, and he says he’s still getting used to the position and its responsibilities. Since he started at the beginning of the quarantine, he admits it’s been challenging having to settle in remotely. However long it takes though, he says he wants to make a positive impact — one that reflects his travels and unique past experiences.
“I look forward to continuing to learn from our team and helping us grow in knowledge and stature with our peers,” he said. “I know I have a lot to learn, but I have fantastic teachers here at TVA and I’m proud to be a part of TVA’s mission.”
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