TVA Fly Ash Pond Had Failure in '80sFeb 12, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
The notorious December 22 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Fly Ash Spill is apparently not the first accident of its kind at the Fossil Plant, reported the Knoxville Biz, according to TVA records.
TVA's 1984 annual inspection report indicates that one of the pond’s interior dikes failed, exterior walls were not designed for additional loads, and an analysis of the walls’ strength was urged; records reviewed, to date, did not indicate if the review was conducted. The pond dike walls failed and dumped 5.4 million cubic yards of sludge into the Emory River and surrounding land, damaging a variety of homes, three irreparably, said Knoxville Biz.
The inspection conducted in August 1984 by D.R. Galloway, a TVA civil engineer revealed that, at the time of the inspection, an interior dike, which was tto maintain dredged sludge separately from incurring slurry, failed, according to Galloway, who wrote, "On the morning of August 8 a failure of this dike resulted in the loss of much of the dredged material to the previously dredged area," said Knoxville Biz. That accident involved an interior wall.
Galloway also noted that exterior walls were not designed for the work being done and wrote, said Knoxville Biz, "The exterior dikes were not designed for additional interior loads which may occur as a result of this dredging future stacking operation." Galloway suggested a slope stability analysis be conducted to determine if the walls could handle such loads. While it is not known if the analysis was conducted, it is clear that the exterior walls failed in 2008, causing one of the most massive accidents of is kind.
In 1985, another civil engineer at TVA, R.D. Powell, wrote in his inspection report, "After the failure of an internal dredge dike on August 8, 1984, another dredge area was formed in the northwestern portion of the ash disposal area by extending the deflector dike constructed of bottom ash to intersect with the raised ash dike adjacent to Swan Pond (Road)," quoted Knoxville Biz. Powell’s report does not state if the slope stability analysis was performed and does not repeat the 1984 recommendations.
Also revealed were the follow-up measures to a 2003 “blowout” that dumped water and fly ash on to Swan Pond Road. While analysis was performed on one of the walls, none was performed on this road, according to the 1985 report, said Knoxville Biz.
In response to the overwhelming cleanup costs—between $525 million and $825 million—said WBIR, one of TVA’s executives is planning to take a pay cut and will push off incentive compensation, cutting his 2009 compensation package by half. Also, his direct reports will receive no merit increases and nonunion employees will not be receiving corporate incentives.
Most alarming, researchers have found that the massive fly ash spill is exposing area residents and the environment to some serious and dangerous health and environmental outcomes, such as radium and arsenic exposure. Radium is a Group-A carcinogenic material, according to the Environmental Protection Agency; radium exposure can lead to cancer. Also, arsenic, a toxic metal, can increase the risk of some cancers, skin damage, and circulatory problems.