Ash cleanup could take 4 more years

Ash cleanup could take 4 more years

January 20th, 2010 by Pam Sohn in News

Federal officials are asking the public to preview three Kingston, Tenn., ash spill cleanup alternatives that could take up to four years of cleanup work and another $741 million.

In a report released Tuesday online, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Valley Authority invite public comments on additional cleanup plans for the Dec. 22, 2008, spill of 5.4 million cubic yards of ash.

TVA already has spent more than $200 million removing ash from the main channel of the Emory River, but the new cleanup alternatives are aimed at ash removal from Emory River sloughs and land in the Swan Pond community -- the largest portion of the 300 acres covered by ash.

The alternatives range in cost from $268 million to $741 million and could add another 2.8 to 4.1 years in work time.

EPA spokeswoman Davina Marraccini said public comments received today through Feb. 18 will be factored into a final decision. A separate report of that decision will be prepared later, she said.

Randy Ellis, vice chairman of the Roane County Community Advisory Group, encouraged community members to read the report because "results of the option chosen will be a permanent fixture" in the Swan Pond community.

"This process gives the community the opportunity to step up and have a say in how the spill cleanup will continue," he said. "Remember this is your community and you will be here long after the cleanup is complete and (the state department of environment and conservation) and EPA are long gone."

TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said the online report -- also available in the Kingston and Harriman public libraries, as well as the TVA Outreach Center in Kingston -- details the costs and evaluates the alternatives outlined.

"This is the full document that we are asking the public to comment on for the final disposal of the ash cleanup," she said Tuesday.

The most expensive alternative -- $719.3 million to $741.1 million -- would remove 6.8 million cubic yards of ash from the river slough, nearby land and the remaining broken dredge pond. The removed ash would be disposed of elsewhere in a landfill.

Another alternative would excavate ash only from the slough and dispose of the 2.8 million cubic yards of material offsite, costing $439.6 million to $455.3 million.

ALTERNATIVES AND COMMENTS

* Alternative 1: Excavate slough and dispose of material off site (2.8 million cubic yards of material) -- $439.6 million to $455.3 million

* Alternative 2: Excavate slough and portions of dredge cell and dispose of material off site (6.8 million cubic yards of material) -- $719.3 million to $741.1 million

* Alternative 3: Excavate slough and dispose on material onsite (2.5 million cubic yards of material) -- $268.2 million to $315.5 million

To comment by mail write to: TVA at P.O. Box 40, Kingston, TN 37763-0400, Attn: Kingston Public Comments. To comment by e-mail write to: kingstoncomm@tva.gov

The least expensive alternative would excavate $2.5 million cubic yards of ash from the slough and dispose of it onsite at a cost of $268.2 million to $315.5 million, according to the report.

A fourth alternative was considered: leaving the material in place, covering it and turning it into a recreation area, the report states.

"However, this option would clearly violate the terms of both the TDEC Commissioner's Order and the EPA Administrative Order," according to the report.

The TDEC and EPA orders respectively call for restoration of the area and removal of the ash.