Tennessee Settles Lawsuit Over TVA Coal Ash Ponds

The settlement requires the Tennessee Valley Authority to remove approximately 12 million cubic yards of coal combustion residuals from its active coal ash ponds at the Gallatin Fossil Plant, closing the coal ash pond complex and remediating the area in accordance with state law.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III recently announced a settlement of a lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority over its management of coal ash ponds at the TVA Gallatin Fossil Plant. TVA reported that the settlement requires it to remove approximately 12 million cubic yards of coal combustion residuals from its active coal ash ponds at the plant, closing the coal ash pond complex and remediating the area in accordance with state law. Under the agreement, TVA may either place the excavated material in a lined, permitted landfill or recycle the material for beneficial reuse in concrete or other construction materials.

"We are pleased to bring this matter to a positive conclusion," said TDEC Commissioner David Salyers. "This settlement will resolve environmental issues at the Gallatin Fossil Plant, and we look forward to continuing our work with TVA and non-governmental organizations to further protect our environment and our citizens."

The settlement also requires TVA to complete a final environmental assessment report to identify the extent of soil, surface water, and groundwater contamination at the plant.

"After a thorough review of the scientific evidence, and with the availability of an on-site lined landfill, TVA worked with TDEC to determine that it is the best interest of our customers, the state of Tennessee, and most importantly, our neighbors in the Gallatin community to remove the ash from the existing wet impoundments," said Jeff Lyash, TVA's president and CEO. "We will continue to work with TDEC and other regulators to determine site-specific solutions that are in the best interest of all those we serve, not just at Gallatin, but at all our sites."

TDEC had filed the lawsuit in 2015, alleging violations of the Tennessee Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act as a result of TVA's coal ash disposal practices at the plant.

TVA will have to develop a plan for removal of the material and submit the plan no later than Sept. 30, 2020, to TDEC for approval. TVA also must provide a copy of its proposed plan for removal to the Tennessee Clean Water Network and the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association. The citizens groups will have 30 days to provide comments on the proposal and provide a copy of their comments to TVA. TVA must complete removal of the ash pond complex within 20 years of TDEC's final approval of the plan. The settlement allows TVA to conduct a treatability test and field demonstration at the plant's legacy CCR disposal site for five years. At the conclusion of the project, TVA will submit a corrective action/risk assessment plan to TDEC outlining corrective measures for closure of the legacy site and remediation of groundwater contamination.

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