Friday, January 9, 2009

All Of Those Leaky TVA Ponds

Folks, when I said the TVA coal sludge spill wasn’t the first and won’t be the last, I wasn’t kidding. And when I said the Kingston disaster should be coal’s Three Mile Island, I meant it.

Witness this news item from this morning (h/t, reader fuzed-T):
TVA waste pond ruptures in Ala.; spill contained

STEVENSON, Ala. (AP) — A waste pond at a coal-burning power plant in northeast Alabama ruptured early Friday, but the spill was quickly contained, utility officials said.

The spill, about 30 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tenn., was the second rupture at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility in recent weeks. In late December, a dike burst at a plant near Kingston, Tenn., releasing more than 1 billion gallons of toxic-laden ash into a neighborhood.

The leak was discovered at about 6 a.m. Friday at the plant near Stevenson, said TVA spokesman John Moulton. Most of the material from the leak flowed into a settling pond at the plant site, but some spilled into nearby Widows Creek, he said.

The leak has stopped and the TVA is conducting temporary repairs on the pond, Moulton said.

The federal utility said the pond contained gypsum, a material that is captured in air pollution control devices at the coal-burning plant, and is different than the type of sludge that spilled in Tennessee. Gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral that contains calcium sulfate, which is used to make wall board, cement and fertilizer.

Gypsum is what my friend at TWRA said is used to mix with coal ash, which is then manufactured into drywall and cinder block.

Anyway, rumor has it that TVA’s Johnsonville Fossil Plant outside of Waverly, TN is operating with a sludge pond (pictured at right) which is 20 years past its life expectancy. That should set off alarm bells, considering TVA brags on the Johnsonville website that this fossil plant "consumes some 9,600 tons of coal a day."

I don't mean to alarm anyone--or hell, maybe I do--but leaks have been reported at the Johnsonville sludge pond since 2003. Also:

Newschannel 5 also learned the state reported erosion in 2006 at a dike at TVA's Cumberland Fossil Plant in Stewart County.

Gosh I feel so much better now. Not.

Meanwhile, back in May TDEC approved reissuing Johnsonville’s permit to dump

ash pond discharges, water treatment plant wastes, discharges from sump stations, discharges from metal and non-chemcial metal cleaning, discharges from coal yard drainage, and storm water runoff through Outfall 001; steam condenser cooling water, miscellaneous equipment cooling/lubricating water through Outfall 003; metal cleaning wastewater via IMP 005; intake screen backwash through Outfall 010; settled ash slurry from the main ash pond, runoff from ash stacking, and direct rainfall onto the sedimentation pond through Outfall 011; air conditioner noncontact cooling water through Outfall 013; Electrical Control Building noncontact cooling water through Outfall 017

into the Tennessee River.

I’m sure we have nothing to worry about and everything is just peachy. Really.