Friday, January 29, 2010

TVA Cleaning Up:

In May 2009 the EPA returned to Kingston with a government order covering the requirements for the TVA coal ash spill clean up. The site is described as "the largest disaster of its kind in the history of the U.S." It is also classified as a "Super Fund Site".

As I mentioned in my last post, the first phase of clean up is to remove over 3 million cubic yards of coal ash from the Emory River. Approximately 500 individuals are on site 12 hours a day to accomplish the daunting task. Several large dredgers are used in the Emory River to pump the coal ash out of the river.

Dredgers pump coal ash from the Emory River 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

The coal ash removed from the river is spread to dry down to a 30% moisture content. Retaining walls have been constructed to prevent the possibility of the drying ash being carried back into the river during the winter storms.

Retaining walls and dyke to prevent dredged ash from escaping into Emory River.

The EPA has determined to prevent migration of the coal ash during clean up it must be constantly maintained with a moisture content. Water trucks move through the site every few minutes to ensure this process.

Water trucks prevent migration of drying coal ash.

The coal ash from the Emory River is being shipped by rail car to the Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown, Al. Eighty-eight rail cars per day leave the Kingston location and travel the 350 miles to Uniontown.

Rail cars to be loaded with coal ash from the drying area.

To prevent the coal ash escaping from the rail cars on the 350 mile trip to Uniontown a "burrito" wrapper has been designed to encase the coal ash within the rail cars.

Rail car fitted with plastic "burrito" wrapper.

Currently coal ash remains an "unclassified" material by the EPA. The procedures I observed at the spill/cleanup site to prevent potential migration of ash showed great concern for potential problems. When exiting the work site boots are scrubbed and all vehicles are required to pass through a three phase wash/cleaning process. All wash water from the cleaning is recycled and filtered before release.

Three phase vehicle cleaning required before exiting the spill site.

Will the Emory River and the Swan Pond community return to what it was before December 22, 2008? Time changes all things. It is a big job and there is a big story yet to unfold.

Swan Pond Slough Phase One clean up.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TVA Coal Ash Clean up:

The Dec. 22, 2008, spill at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant dumped 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash into the Emory River, Swan Pond Creek and surrounding community.
December 30, 2008. Swan Pond, Kingston, Tenn.

The first phase of the cleanup, which involves removing 3 million cubic yards of coal ash from the Emory River and shipping it to the Uniontown Alabama landfill, should be complete this spring. TVA has committed to spending at least $428.5 million during the first phase, but some of those contracts will extend into the second phase, officials say.

Steve McCracken, who has managed three extensive environmental recovery and remediation projects for the Department of Energy, joined TVA as general manager of the Kingston Ash Recovery Project this past September.
Steve McCracken, general manager Kingston Ash Recovery Project

At a community meeting in Kingston on Tuesday night McCracken released initial plans for public review, covering phase two and three of the coal ash clean up.

Alternative 1: Excavate ash from the embayment, close the dredge cells of the failed holding pond and ship 2.8 million cubic yards of coal ash offsite for permanent storage - $439.6 million to $455.3 million.

Alternative 2 - Excavate ash from the embayment and portions of the dredge cells, and ship 6.8 million cubic yards of coal ash offsite for permanent storage - $719.3 million to $741.1 million.

Alternative 3 - Excavate ash from the embayment and dispose of the 2.4 million cubic yards of coal ash in rebuilt dredge cells that would be capped and closed - $268.2 million to $315.5 million.

At the end of the meeting during a public Q & A, McCracken was asked what the situation would be for disposing of coal ash "if" the EPA classified it as hazardous material in the near future. McCracken stated, "In the United States fossil fuel plants (coal burning power plants) create 170 million tons of coal ash per year. The United States does not have the facilities to handle the volume of material if coal ash would be classified as hazardous material."

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Smith Mountain Coal Ash Dump Site:

In Crossville, TN. the Cumberland County Commissioners approved an old coalmine at Smith Mountain, located a short distance from Kingston, TN., to be come a new site for the disposal of TVA coal ash.

Cumberland County residents thought they were going to take part of the wet coal ash from the Kingston 2008 ash spill. That would have ended in three years. Currently the wet coal ash being extracted from the Emory River at Kingston is being shipped via rail cars to a dump site in Uniontown, AL. The Smith Mountain site, if permits are approved, could become a site for new coal ash.

Seventeen county residents have joined to say the coal ash landfill will destroy their quality of life.

Dave Brundage has put his heart, soul, and life's savings into the Black Cat Lodge which is located near the proposed Smith Mountain Mine dump site. He invested $2 million of his own money to provide transitional living for individuals struggling with addiction and abuse. Brundage has created a dream location where seven people already put their lives back together. Here is Dave's story:

To see and hear Dave's story in a larger version (click here).

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Monday, January 25, 2010

Swan Pond Circle: "Before and After":

On December 22, 2008 3.5 million cubic yards of coal ash spilled from a holding pond at the TVA Coal Power Plant in Kingston, TN. One of the areas directly impacted by the coal ash is called Swan Pond. Many of the photographs I made thirteen months ago are from this area. Today, I revisited a resident of the Swan Pond neighborhood. Tom Grissard and I spent the morning driving through this once lively neighborhood. Tom shared with me how his community and life has changed forever. Here is Tom's story:

To date, TVA has purchased over 170 homes in the Swan Pond area. Families have moved, homes filled with laughter are silent, a community changed. (for a larger version of the story click here)

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On the road... Harriman, TN, Crossville, TN, and Uniontown, AL(see map)to work on the coal stories. Storm moving through New Mexico made the roads interesting early in the morning. My usual first morning stop after leaving Santa Fe on this route is Tucumcari, NM. Interstate 40 has cut off this historic town on the old Route 66. Still an original diner in town...road food.
When you travel alone eating on the road is a quiet time to stop and take in the surroundings. Always interesting things to see. KIX on 66 is an original diner from the 50's. Feels good to sit in the old booth and put that gravy on the hash browns.Not many customers at KIX today, but the people there are always friendly. Good food...good stop.

Out of the rain and snow and into the sun. Open road ahead. Into Texas. Largest cross in North America they claim...
...interesting thought.."is bigger better?"..oh well...breaks up the horizon line and you can see it at 70 mph. Gas stop in Shamrock, TX. Part of the "historic" Route 66.Gas stations and cafes have changed over the years. Couldn't get gas here had to drive down the street to the Chevron. Cafe has been replaced with a McDonalds. Quick time to linger..American "way of life". On into Oaklahoma.Wind farm along the road. Sky is clear...big difference from being in the Four Corners last week and what the skies look like there. Beautiful...graceful...they sway in the wind with the trees.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned.

be strong, be safe, Carlan