TVA Guards Coal Ash Against Seismic Events

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - by Scott Fiedler
Of course TVA works around the clock to protect its dams, nuclear plants and transmission assets safe from harm in the case of seismic events. But it takes just as much care to protect its coal combustion residuals.

It’s not everyday an earthquake makes big news in Tennessee. As we learned on Dec. 12, 2018, any shift Mother Nature makes attracts the immediate attention of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

While TVA dams and nuclear plants garner much public attention around earthquakes, the utility also goes to great lengths to protect their coal combustion residual (CCR) units [coal ash] from the region’s seismic activity.
TVA is the first utility in the world to implement this level of technology to monitor CCR storage.

“There’s nothing more important than safety at TVA, and at our CCR facilities alone, we have more than 15,000 sensors installed to monitor impacts to ensure we keep the environment safe,” said Nick McClung, GCP&S manager of risk and quality assurance. “If something moves we know about it.”

Mr. McClung, who leads the team that keeps an eye on TVA’s coal ash, says that the utility has invested about $2 million to develop a system to identify and respond to any CCR issue before it becomes an emergency.

According to Mr. McClung, TVA’s CCR sensors collect data as frequently as every five minutes. TVA engineers look for any changes in the sensors that access stability or water levels, which may signal a potential problem.

“The information is stored in a database so we can review and track it over time,” Mr. McClung said. “If something out of the norm happens, my team gets a notification alerting us to take action.”  

Additionally, all TVA CCR sites have a specialized inspection plan with detailed instructions of what to do should an earthquake or other natural disaster occur.

Mr. McClung said he did not feel the 3:14 a.m. CT quake, but once his team notified him, he knew it was going to be a big day for his staff.

TVA’s CCR engineering team enacts its special inspection plan for earthquakes measuring 4.5 or more. Even though the recent earthquake that occurred in Decatur, Tennessee, measured 4.4, Mr. McClung explained that it was determined that TVA would deploy the specialized inspection plan since the rating was so close to the required number. 

“That morning we immediately deployed field staff and engineers to the [CCR] sites to ensure there were no issues,” Mr. McClung said.  

TVA engineers cross-checked data sent through the sensors called piezometers (which measure water levels in CCR facilities) and inclinometers (which measure the incline of a slope). These instruments are critical to determine any shifts or changes in CCR sites. They are part of the cutting-edge network of devices that provide 24/7 monitoring information for diagnosis and deployment. 

Within 24 hours of the earthquake Mr. McClung’s team reviewed the data and could ensure there were no issues at any CCR unit near the quake.

“TVA’s CCR monitoring system is world class and just as robust as the systems at our nuclear sites and dams,” Mr. McClung said. “With a few clicks we can see real-time data or stream live video of what’s happening at our impoundments. With this system we have high-confidence that we can continue to ensure public safety when earthquakes happen.”

Chattanooga's Taimen Transport Named 1 Of America's Fastest Growing Companies

Local Attorney Selected For “On The Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers” In America List

Best Lawyers In America For 2020 Includes Environmental Attorney David Higney


In Inc.com's annual guide “The Most Successful Companies in America,” Chattanooga’s Taimen Transport, LLC has been listed as the 1,339th fastest-growing privately-held company in the United States. ... (click for more)

The Law Firm of Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison P.C. recognizes the selection of one of their directors, Brittany Thomas Faith, as a 2019 American Bar Association On the Rise – Top 40 Young ... (click for more)

Grant Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C., announces attorney David C. Higney is recognized and included in the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America for Environmental Law. Best Lawyers ... (click for more)


Business

Chattanooga's Taimen Transport Named 1 Of America's Fastest Growing Companies

In Inc.com's annual guide “The Most Successful Companies in America,” Chattanooga’s Taimen Transport, LLC has been listed as the 1,339th fastest-growing privately-held company in the United States. Founded in 2012, Taimen Transport, which focuses on full truckload transportation services, offering transportation technology for customers to monitor shipments, presently has 17 full-time ... (click for more)

Local Attorney Selected For “On The Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers” In America List

The Law Firm of Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison P.C. recognizes the selection of one of their directors, Brittany Thomas Faith, as a 2019 American Bar Association On the Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers in America. Ms. Faith’s selection is based on her "dedication and tireless advocacy to her clients as part of her immigration practice." The annual award “provides national recognition ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Motorcyclist, 55, Killed In Collision With SUV On Tuesday Morning On Lee Highway

A motorcyclist was killed in a collision with an SUV on Lee Highway on Tuesday morning. At approximately 9:01 a.m., Chattanooga Police were notified of a serious traffic crash involving a motorcycle and a vehicle at 7500 Lee Highway. The CPD Traffic / DUI Unit responded to the scene. A GMC Acadia, driven by Gary A. Moore, 68, was traveling south on Lee Highway and merged ... (click for more)

Construction Set To Start Next Spring On $25 Million Chattanooga Airport Parking Deck; Terminal To Expand; Enplanements Continue To Increase

Terry Hart, president of the Chattanooga Airport, said at the August board meeting that it has been a good summer for the airport with enplanements in June increasing 12½ percent above last year and seven percent in July. For the first seven months of the year, enplanements are up 12 ½ percent with an increase of 2,500 arrivals and departures year-to-date over 2018. However, a leveling ... (click for more)

Opinion

What Does The White Privilege Presentation Have To Do With Education?

On Aug. 2, Hamilton County Schools held a professional development presented by motivational speaker Robert Jackson. The PD was for the teachers in the Opportunity Zone, which includes the 12 lowest-performing schools in Hamilton County where 90 percent of the students are black. During the 90-minute presentation, there was a 15-20-minute segment concerning “White Privilege”. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: 'White Privilege' Is A Myth

Several weeks ago, I must admit I had never heard of Patrick Hampton, an African American who has just joined a promising conservative think talk not-for-profit group known as Hamilton Flourishing. Headed by longtime executive and dream-maker Doug Daugherty, the group is in the perfect position to make a lasting impact on our all-inclusive community. Patrick Hampton made a huge ... (click for more)