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EPA Approves Plan for Disposal of Coal Ash from TVA Kingston Site at the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County, Alabama

Release Date: 07/02/2009
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293, marraccini.davina@epa.gov

(ATLANTA – July 2, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to transfer coal ash from the Emory River near the TVA Kingston removal site in Roane County, Tenn., to the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County, Ala. EPA’s Administrative Order on Consent with TVA requires that the coal ash from the site be disposed of in accordance with the most stringent protective disposal standards for municipal solid waste landfills. The Arrowhead Landfill was selected because it meets and exceeds these standards.

TVA identified potential disposal sites for disposal of approximately 3 million of the total 5.4 million cubic yards of ash spilled at the Kingston site, and submitted a disposal options analysis for EPA's review and approval. TVA received 25 proposals from potential disposal sites and, of those, three sites accessible by rail and four sites accessible by truck in Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee met screening criteria and were evaluated.

Arrowhead Landfill complies with all technical requirements specified by federal and state regulations. The landfill is permitted to accept waste materials such as coal ash and has the capacity to accommodate the anticipated volume of material. The landfill features a compacted clay liner and a high density polyethylene liner; a leachate collection system that gathers liquids and pumps them to the surface for treatment; and a protective cover. The landfill staff conducts regular groundwater monitoring, and plans to conduct air monitoring to ensure worker safety. Norfolk Southern has a direct rail line from the TVA facility to the landfill. Rail transport is preferred over truck transport because there is less potential for accidents, greater fuel efficiency and no burden on road traffic. In addition, the thickness and extremely low permeability of the Selma Chalk Group geologic formation beneath the Arrowhead Landfill provide for natural protection of groundwater.

Prior to approving the Arrowhead Landfill as the disposal site for the coal ash, EPA visited the landfill and met with local leaders and members of the surrounding community to review the disposal plan and answer questions. The landfill is in an isolated area, located 4 to 5 miles from Uniontown, the nearest population center. The site has a 100 foot buffer that surrounds the landfill property. EPA and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management will conduct ongoing monitoring of the landfill to ensure it is operated properly.

It is important that ash be removed from the Emory River and the river be returned to its natural state. Coal ash at the Kingston site contains low levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium and zinc. The coal ash should be disposed of properly and as quickly as possible in order to minimize the potential for flooding or other disturbances that may cause more ash to flow downstream and impact water quality. Ash can also smother aquatic life and make the river bottom unsuitable for aquatic life.

Since the ash disposal needs to begin immediately, the public will be invited to comment as work begins. For longer-term response actions, including the removal and disposal of the remaining 2.4 million cubic yards of ash from embayments and surface areas, the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on proposed actions before decisions are made.

For more information about EPA’s oversight and response activities at the Kingston site, visit:
http://www.epa.gov/region4/kingston and http://www.epakingstontva.com