Fossil plant puts out fire

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By Damon Lawrence

A person out fishing called 911 on July 15 to report a fire at the Kingston Fossil Plant. Local fire departments were contacted about the incident, but TVA said plant employees handled the situation.

“On Sunday, July 15, a circuit breaker in the Kingston Fossil Plant switchyard failed, resulting (in) a small fire in the circuit breaker housing that was quickly extinguished by plant personnel,” TVA Public Information Officer Jim Hopson said via email Friday. “There was no damage to any other component of the switchyard or to the generating units themselves. No ash or other coal combustion residual product was released or impacted.”

Roane County E-911 received a call about the incident just before 5 a.m. on July 15.

“Power station is on fire,” comments on the E-911 detail call sheet state. “Transformer blew up. Caller is fishing at steam plant and can see fire.”

Hopson said the circuit breaker failure would have created a bright electrical flash and loud noise.

“Because the circuit breaker is cooled with oil, its failure did allow a small quantity of that cooling oil to catch fire, but this was immediately extinguished by Kingston team members with a single fire extinguisher,” Hopson said. “In short, the event looked and sounded far worse than it actually was. There was no damage beyond the failed circuit breaker itself and the Kingston team responded safely and correctly, as trained.”

Hopson said the plant was producing power on Friday.

“As of this moment, five of the Kingston units are in operation,” he said.

The Kingston Fossil Plant was once the site of an environmental calamity. More than 5 million cubic yards of fly ash was released when a dike failed at the plant on Dec. 22, 2008. This December will mark 10 years since the failure, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called one of the worst environmental disasters in history. It cost more than $1 billion to clean up.