TDEC Issues Administrative Order Against TVA On Coal Ash Disposal

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) on Friday issued a Commissioner’s Order to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) directing the investigation, assessment and remediation of all coal ash disposal sites across Tennessee. This Order follows the federal coal combustion residual (CCR) rule, and not only ensures the state is kept abreast of TVA’s progress in complying with the federal rule, but also goes beyond what the federal rule requires.

 

TVA in December 2008 had a disastrous coal ash spill at a plant at Kingston, Tn. It was the largest fly ash release in United States history and cost TVA more than $1 billion to clean up the damage.

 

Officials said the order "is intended to establish a transparent, comprehensive process for the investigation, assessment, and remediation of coal combustion residual disposal sites at TVA’s coal-fired power plants in Tennessee. The order also establishes the process through which TDEC will oversee TVA’s implementation of the federal CCR rule to insure coordination and compliance with Tennessee laws and regulations that govern the management and disposal of CCR."

 

“Our goal in issuing this order is to ensure that historical coal ash disposal sites are addressed in a manner that is fully protective of both the public health and the environment, as well as meeting state and federal requirements,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “The Order addresses all CCR disposal areas in the state, even those not under the jurisdiction of the federal rule.”

 

Significantly, the order goes far beyond the requirements of the federal CCR rule by requiring TVA to study and appropriately address all “CCR disposal areas” including all permitted landfills, all “non-registered” landfills (landfills that existed before they were subject to regulation), and all current and former surface water impoundments that contain CCR, it was stated. 

 

The order also requires TVA to provide public notice and an opportunity to comment on each Environmental Investigation Plan and each Corrective Action/Risk Assessment Plan at its sites across Tennessee.

 

“The public participation component is key,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Shari Meghreblian. “Allowing the public input into the site investigation, assessment and remediation process is important to the quality of the final outcome at each site.”

 

TVA must pay all costs associated with the TDEC’s oversight of the implementation of the order. If TVA does not meet the requirements of this order, TVA is subject to pay penalties of $5,000 per noncompliance and $1,000 for each day until the noncompliance is remedied. The order also reserves the right to further assess TVA additional civil penalties or damages incurred by the State. The right to order further investigation, remedial action, and/or monitoring and maintenance is also specifically reserved. 


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