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UPDATED: TVA taking ash by rail to Alabama, Georgia

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

dlawrence@roanecounty.com

TVA’s spilled fly ash could soon be on the move again.

Only this time it has little to do with a dike failure or water flow.

Anda Ray, the TVA executive in charge of cleaning up the ash spill, said Wednesday that as part of a test, railcars would be moving ash off site within 24 to 48 hours.

Officials with TVA said the railcars will be transporting the ash to landfills in Alabama and Georgia.

Many residents have expressed worries that TVA might use dump trucks to move the ash. That could still be the case, but TVA is apparently serious about considering rail as an option. Ray said the railcar shipment is part of a trial run.

“What we’re doing is trying to prepare to get the ash off site, so we’ve got an RFP (request for proposal) that’s out,” she said.  “We have two companies that rose to the top of the RFP, and now we’re doing a 15 car test.”

Ray said the test run will show TVA such things as how to best load the ash for transport and how to keep the ash from becoming airborne on route to its destination.

After the trial run, TVA could, “modify the process and then issue a contract to begin taking it off site,” Ray said.

TVA continues to say that a permanent disposal site for the ash has not been made.

A dike failure at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant swamped the surrounding area with 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash last December.

The disaster damaged homes, property, roads and quality of life.

TVA said 3 million cubic yards of the spilled ash ended up in the Emory River.

Only around 100,000 cubic yards has been dredged out so far, according to TVA.

Ray also acknowledged what was evident earlier this week. Increased water flow along the Emory allowed ash to move into adjacent waterways.

“Clearly, there had to be some ash just going downstream,” she said. “It’s gone down a long way.”