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State cites TVA for leaking pond in Kingston

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

dlawrence@roanecounty.com

TVA violated the requirements of its permit for its flue gas desulfurization stormwater pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant last fall, state officials say.

According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the violations were for failing to make timely notification of a possible leak and for an unpermitted discharge.

The flue gas desulfurization stormwater pond is occasionally called the gypsum stilling pond.  

 The pond is separate from the gypsum pond that will be used to store gypsum, a byproduct of new scrubbers that have been installed.

The notice of violation, issued on Nov. 25, said TVA is required to notify the state within five days of discovering any problems with the pond.

TVA reportedly detected a problem on Nov. 3, but didn’t notify the state until Nov. 20.

“Please be advised that Part III B (2) of the permit requires TVA to notify the division within five days of discovering any change that indicates a potential compromise to the structural integrity of the dike,” states a letter from the state environmental agency to Kingston Fossil Plant manager Leslie Nale. “Failure to notify the division within the prescribed time frame is a violation of the permit.”

TDEC said the incident was investigated as a possible leak because the water level in the stilling pond dropped more quickly than was expected.

“The investigation revealed that the water in the pond actually seeped more quickly than was allowed or expected,” TDEC spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said in an e-mail. “Therefore, a synthetic liner is being installed. TVA will not be able to use the (stilling) pond until the installation of the liner.”

Prior to using the gypsum pond itself, TDEC reports that TVA is required to submit a Construction Quality Assurance report for TDEC approval.

“This report is a third-party engineering report certifying the structure is built in accordance with the solid waste permit requirements,” TDEC states in its monthly update on activities at the fossil plant.

TDEC began its monthly updates because of the fly ash catastrophe that occurred at the fossil plant on Dec. 22, 2008.

A dike failure at the plant released 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash into the environment.

The cleanup, monitored by TDEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, could cost more than $1 billion.