TVA & MLGW Investigating Unsafe Levels Of Chemicals Found Near Drinking Water Source

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - The Tennessee Valley Authority, state, and local leaders are working together to determine how unsafe levels of several chemicals were found near the drinking water source of hundreds of thousands of people in the Memphis area.

In May, TVA workers found arsenic, lead, and other chemicals in a groundwater testing wells at coal ash ponds next to the TVA’s Allen Fossil Station. That's within two miles of both the Memphis sand aquifer and MLGW’s Davis pumping station.

State and county officials said they're confident the contaminants found in this area 'do not' impact drinking water, but MLGW is doing follow up water tests to be extra sure.

State and environmental leaders are scrambling to figure out how chemicals, some hundreds of times above standard level, made it into groundwater wells at the Allen Fossil Station plant, which sits next to McKellar lake. 

"Arsenic levels of that magnitude are very unusual to find near coal ash,” says Scott Brooks with the TVA.

That coal ash is residue set aside from coal burnt for energy in the nearly 60-year old facility. 

"It's also very unusual to find something like fluoride and lead, because those are not commonly found in coal ash, so there are a lot of questions,” says Brooks.

Brooks said it could take months to find out the source of the contamination. Based on that, state environmental leaders could order follow up protections. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell called the situation 'unacceptable."

"We agree. We think anything out of a standard is something that causes us concern and something we want to take action on,” says Brooks.

The good news is even though the plant sits above the Memphis sand aquifer and two miles from a MLGW water pumping station, the contamination is not believed to impact the H2O we drink and use every day.

"The water that was tested with the extremely elevated levels is NOT drinking water, it is ground water, it is not water coming from our deep aquifer,” says Dr. Helen Morrow with the Shelby County Health Department.

MLGW is expected to get results from the follow up water tests late next week. TVA leaders said this contamination does 'not' impact plans to build a new natural gas plant next to this site next year.

In a statement, MLGW said:

“MLGW’s Davis Water Pumping Station and its associated well field is located two miles from the site where the arsenic in a shallow well was found by TVA. MLGW pumps its water from a deep aquifer called the Memphis Sand. We do not expect to find elevated levels of arsenic in the water we pump from our wells. We are having samples from our wells analyzed. We should have results of that analysis late next week. MLGW is working closely with TDEC.”

You can read MLGW’s latest Water Quality Report HERE.

 

 

 

 


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