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TVA to remove coal ash from retired Memphis plant

A TVA spokesman says removal would cost about $300 million and the process could take about seven to 10 years.
Credit: AP
FILE - July 14, 2017 - The Tennessee Valley Authority's coal-burning Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — (AP) - The Tennessee Valley Authority says it plans to move toxin-laden coal ash from a retired plant in Memphis to an off-site landfill.

The nation's largest utility says it is considering six landfills in the South after it decided to move millions of cubic yards of coal ash from the old Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis rather than keep the material in place.

A TVA spokesman says removal would cost about $300 million and the process could take about seven to 10 years.

The decision made public Friday was the latest move by the authority as it deals with coal ash disposal in Tennessee.

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TVA News release: 

The Tennessee Valley Authority is planning to remove coal ash stored at the former Allen Fossil Plant site in Shelby County, Tennessee to an approved offsite landfill. This is an important step toward making the site available for future economic development. 

As part of the National Environmental Policy Act, TVA evaluated options for closure of the ash impoundments at Allen to include, but not limited to, closure by removal and beneficial use. The final Environmental Impact Statement is available at www.tva.com/nepa

The document addresses the potential environmental effects associated with actions including the use of permitted borrow sites for fill material and the disposal of coal ash at existing offsite permitted landfills.  In the final EIS, TVA’s preferred alternative is closure by removal of all coal ash at Allen to a permitted offsite landfill. Closure in place was eliminated from consideration in the draft EIS. 

Construction of a beneficial reuse facility was also considered, but would extend the timeline of closure and delay the future economic development of the site, as well as result in greater impacts to the community.   

TVA has identified six permitted landfills which could potentially accept coal ash from Allen. Coal ash is regulated as nonhazardous solid waste by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. TVA has not selected a specific site, and will issue a request for proposals from the landfills. 

Each of the candidate landfill operators would be expected to have robust environmental plans, effective project designs, and a history of compliance that ensures minimal offsite impacts from storage of coal ash.  

TVA does not solely own the property where the fossil plant is located. TVA has had, and continues to have, numerous discussions with the City of Memphis, MLGW and others about interest in potential economic redevelopment of the site.  

For more information about TVA and its 86-year mission of service to the Tennessee Valley, click here.

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