TVA tears down Watts Bar coal plant near Spring City, Tenn.

TVA tears down Watts Bar coal plant near Spring City, Tenn.

December 23rd, 2011 by Pam Sohn in News

Demolition crews work at the Tennessee Valley Authority's old Watts Bar fossil plant near Spring City, Tenn., on Dec. 1.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

TVA will complete the teardown of the Watts Bar coal plant near Spring City, Tenn., today.

The fossil plant, built in 1942 as the Tennessee Valley Authority's first coal plant and idled since 1985, had become a $1 million-a-year drain on agency resources and a potential safety hazard, said Robert Fisher, TVA senior vice president for fossil generation.

"By doing the deconstruction now, we are taking advantage of a strong market for scrap metals, which will help keep the cost of the project very low," Fisher said in a prepared statement.

Fisher and TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said the utility spent about $1.2 million tearing down the facility, which is near the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant along the Tennessee River. That's about as much money as the utility has been spending every year to keep the building "safely standing," Brooks said.

Deconstruction began in July, and more than 90 percent of the building's materials have been sold to recycling facilities or reused, officials said.

Brooks said TVA didn't announce the deconstruction plan or the work before now because officials wanted to avoid scrap-metal thievery at the site.

More than 150 people worked at the plant when it was running, Brooks said.

"It had four units that produced a total of 260 megawatts for the TVA system," he said. That was enough power to supply electricity to about 152,000 Tennessee Valley homes.

TVA will retain ownership of the property, Brooks said.