MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – We now have a clearer idea on when Tennessee Valley Authority leaders plan to move out all the coal ash from the Allen Fossil Plant, which sits above Memphis’ main drinking water supply. But we don’t know where just yet.
TVA retired the plant last year, but taking out the tons of coal ash will take years.
TVA leaders say the project is underway to eventually move out all of the coal ash, some of which sits above the fence line, and drain out and treat the groundwater at the retired facility in southwest Memphis. It sits above the Memphis aquifer, the region’s main drinking supply.
“Drinking water is safe. It’s not being impacted by this coal ash at the Allen facility,” TVA President & CEO Jeff Lyash said.
Lyash Tuesday updated where things stand, and planned milestones ahead.
Two weeks ago, TVA crews began draining out the first priority – the east ash pond. Two years ago, testing there and in nearby groundwater found arsenic and other chemicals. That prompted more monitoring wells and additional testing to prevent toxins from reaching the aquifer deep underground.
“As we remove this ash and as we monitor and remediate groundwater, I want people to be confident that we are not, today, or will not at any time, going to harm the drinking water or harmfully impact the environment,” Lyash said.
By mid to late summer of next year, TVA leaders will begin moving dry ash to a still to be determined site. Starting in 2022, the retired plant will be torn down for new development.
The process has the attention of Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen, who told Local 24 News: “I’m concerned by the EPA’s recent actions under the Trump Administration, which has begun to weaken several critical health and environmental protections for the disposal of coal ash.”
Lyash responded: “The regulation won’t drive us here. It sets a minimum of performance. TVA always strive to exceed that level of performance.”
Another open house regarding the coal ash removal will be held October 30th the Benjamin J. Hooks Public Library in Memphis.