TVA discovers leak in Kingston gypsum pond

TVA discovers leak in Kingston gypsum pond

December 15th, 2010 in Local Regional News

A new gypsum pond at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant is leaking through one of its side walls after this week's rains, TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said today.

She said the leak poses no threat to public safety and TVA crews are working to repair the pond wall.

"It's not supposed to be leaking, but at this point we don't know how big the leak is," she said. "No gypsum has leaked out; it's simply a small water leak."

The gypsum pond leak comes just a week shy of the second annniversary of TVA's worst environmental disaster, when a coal ash pond at Kingston collapsed and spilled more than 5.4 million cubic yards of ash into the Emory River and related properties. TVA expects the cleanup bill for that spill to be up to $1.2 billion.

Martocci said the latest leak involves mostly rainwater, since TVA has deposited only a few months' worth of gypsum from scrubbers at the Kingston plant.

"The pond is relatively big, but the amount of gypsum in the pond is relatively small because we haven't been running the scrubbers very long," she siad.

TVA had a larger gysum pond leak in early 2009 at its Widows Creek Fossil Plant. In response to such problems in its ash and gypsum ponds, TVA plans to phase out wet storage of all coal ash and residues in the next decade.

Here is the text of a statement TVA released shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday:

"A routine inspection of the gypsum pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant on Wednesday discovered clear water seeping from a single area on the side of the facility. Maintenance work is underway to stop the seepage. Gypsum is a limestone product resulting from pollution-control processes. The seepage poses no hazard. However, as a precaution, TVA is testing the water and has notified the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory agencies. The seepage did not occur in a part of the pond where gypsum is stored. The inspection was part of TVA's program to regularly examine its ash and gypsum facilities."