Kingston Ash Release
Expanded Kingston Information
Index (In Alphabetical Order)
The schedule for bringing the first scrubber online at Kingston has changed. Instead of starting it up on Friday, November 13, it will be delayed for a short period of time. There are a couple of reasons for this delay.
- TVA power system demand is low and the power from the Kingston Plant is not needed at this time. Due to the economic conditions, lower cost generating assets, mild weather and increased hydro generation, there are multiple coal-fired generating units off-line throughout the TVA system.
- On the Ash Recovery Site, we continue to remove material from the Emory River faster than we are able to dry it and ship it off site. Increased ash production from the plant would further impact this situation.
TVA’s primary focus at Kingston is the removal of ash from the Emory River as quickly as possible. Given this priority, coupled with low system load demand, the decision has been made to delay the startup of generating units and, consequently, the first scrubber.
Until the scrubber comes online, equipment testing will continue on an almost daily basis as pumps, fans and other types of equipment are run. These tests, like previous tests, will create a water vapor emission from the stacks, but we want to make sure you know that these are just tests, and that no units are connected to the scrubber.
UPDATE on October 20, 2009:
TVA has released to TDEC the event analysis report for the release of material from its Kingston Fossil Plant stack on September 18, 2009. The report details the event and includes photos and a timeline of the incident as well as root cause analysis information and actions being taken to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.
UPDATE on October 9, 2009:
The test burn conducted at Kingston Fossil Plant was meant to determine the types of coal that can be used with the new scrubbers, or flue gas desulfurization systems, which are being installed to reduce more than 95 percent of the sulfur dioxides emitted from the plant.
Kingston operates nine coal units at the plant. Under normal circumstances, five of the nine run their emissions through stack one.
Since the ash spill, TVA has operated a limited number of units that release their emissions through stack one. Only one or two units have been using that stack.
Because of limited use, gas temperatures in the stack are lower than normal (<250 degrees).
Because the stack was much cooler due to less units running, the gaseous materials condensed in the stack turning them into a solid, which exited the stack in “snow-like” flakes.
About 75 percent of the material was fly ash, about 23 percent sulfate compounds and the rest is other components found in natural coal. Sulfate, a component of coal, typically exits the stack as sulfur dioxide gas. In this case, it condensed in the stack with ash material and was released as a solid.
Consistent with the advice offered by the Tennessee Department of Health, and to ensure public health and safety, TVA encourages people to avoid contact with ash from the Kingston ash spill - or from the stacks.
However, due to the small amount of material deposited, the short exposure duration, the relatively low toxicity of the material and the generally larger particle sizes involved (not breathable) there should be no health effects from this incident.
TVA has cleaned stack one and the duct work to remove any remaining ash-like materials.
TVA may startup at least two electric generating units next week, with the flue gas from these units exiting stack one. This is a return to normal plant operations using coal that has been used for the past four years.
If the test burns resume, TVA will notify the public before the test begins.
A final report is being prepared and is scheduled to be ready in the next seven to ten days.
TDEC has posted the TVA executive summary for the root cause analysis from the coal burn test. Click here to view the report.
Roane County and its communities will receive approximately $40 million in economic development funds for locally identified projects as part of TVA’s response to the Kingston ash spill.
On September 14th, TVA and the elected leaders of Roane County and its communities announced they are establishing the Roane County Economic Development Foundation to administer the funds provided by TVA. The elected leaders and TVA representatives will serve as the foundation’s board and will set criteria for considering requests for the funding of projects.
View News Release
TVA recognized immediately after the spill that ash might move into the Clinch River, covering sediments that are contaminated by materials released from DOE uranium enrichment research conducted at Oak Ridge in the 1940s—1960s. In early January, TVA requested that DOE collect core samples of sediments in the area of the Clinch River immediately downstream of the mouth of the Emory River.
In late February, 2009, DOE collected core samples at eight locations in the Clinch River immediately downstream of the mouth of the Emory River and at two locations in the Emory River. Those samples were analyzed for 23 metals, PCBs, and chlordane. DOE also measured Cesium-137 radioactivity at a total of 34 locations in that area. The results of that study showed that Cesium-137 levels were very low and consistent with previous studies. Concentrations of metals also were consistent with historical studies for that reach of river, with metals concentrations in the main channel Clinch River sediments higher than in sediments from other areas of the river.
The eight Clinch River samples and two Emory River samples yielded no reportable concentrations of chlordane, and relatively low levels of PCBs. Higher PCB results were observed for main channel locations than for shallower locations. The maximum PCB value was 0.243 mg/kg at Emory River Mile (ERM) 0.5. The 0.243 mg/kg PCB concentration was in a segment of the core starting at 6 inches depth to the bottom of the core.
TVA performed a follow-up study in March, 2009, to determine whether the concentration of PCBs observed by DOE in the deeper sediments at ERM 0.5 was representative of concentrations in surface sediments in that area that might be disturbed if dredging were determined to be necessary there. Surface sediments were collected from 11 points on a grid between ERM 0.3 and ERM 0.8 and were analyzed for 16 metals, PCBs, and chlordane. PCBs were detected at extremely low levels (0.010 mg/kg or less) in several of these samples. No chlordane was detected in any samples, and mercury levels were below 0.71 mg/kg. The conclusion from those results was that if dredging to recover ash in the lower reach of the Emory River is determined to be necessary, it would not cause release of legacy sediment contaminants in amounts sufficient to be a problem.
TVA also performed sediment sampling in three reaches of the Emory River in February 2009. A total of 17 sediment samples were collected between ERM 6.3 to 7.7 and ERM 9.0 to 9.9; subsequently, samples were collected from 22 points on a grid in the vicinity of ERM 2.1. All of these samples were analyzed for 23 metals, PCBs, and chlordane. Results found no reportable levels of chlordane, and PCBs were at or below reportable levels. Samples from the area near the ash slide showed levels of arsenic up to about150 mg/kg and selenium levels up to about 5-7 mg/kg, reflecting the influence of the ash on sediments in that area.
There have been several additional rounds of sediment sampling in the Emory, Clinch, and Tennessee Rivers to obtain information on depths and distribution of ash in these river systems, but TVA has not performed any additional chemical analyses of those samples. Plans are being developed to further characterize the sediments in the Emory, Clinch, and Tennessee Rivers as dredging in the Emory River approaches completion next spring.
Over the past 24 hours, heavy rainfall in the Kingston area has approached 2 inches. The observed flow at the Emory River Oakdale Gauge as of 0800 hours Thursday October 15 was approximately 8,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) at a stage of about 11 feet. The forecast issued at 0900 hours on Thursday October 15 was for a peak flow of approximately 19,500 cfs and a stage of about 17 feet to occur around 0400 hours on Friday October 16. The flood stage for the Emory River at Oakdale is 27 feet.
More information on stream flows and the relationships to flooding potential can be found at the NOAA site.
In keeping with our surface water sampling plan, on Wednesday, October 14 we took water quality samples from the Swan Pond Embayment drainage system (this was triggered by local rainfall >0.5”). Today, Thursday October 15, we are collecting water quality samples on the Emory, Clinch, and Tennessee Rivers (triggered by local rainfall >1.0” and Emory River flow at Oakdale >5,000 cfs). On Friday, October 16 water quality samples will again be collected on the Emory, Clinch and Tennessee Rivers as normally scheduled. This normally-scheduled event will coincide with the current predicted peak at Oakdale. It should be noted that, based on a variety of factors, peak flow in the Emory River in the vicinity of the ash spill lags several hours behind the peak observed at Oakdale.
The results from these samples will not be known for several days; however, we are also watching the data furnished by our instantaneous turbidity monitors in the Emory River. Through the past 24 hours, the turbidity at Emory River Mile (ERM) 0.5 (downstream of the spill) averaged about 20 NTU and the turbidity at ERM 4.0 (upstream of the spill) averaged about 10 NTU. For comparison, the May 4th storm produced turbidity measurements downstream of the spill in excess of 2,000 NTU. Typical dredge operations produce a very localized condition of approximately 200 NTU.
UPDATE on October 2, 2009: TDEC has released information in their current Kingston Update fact sheet. The TDEC statement:
"TDEC responded immediately to this incident, collected a sample from a local residence and visited the plant. The sample results indicate the material in the sample consists mostly of fly ash."
TVA was performing a test burn of higher sulfur coals to determine if they can be used at the Kingston Fossil Plant once its new scrubbers are operational. When material was seen coming from the stack at the plant on Friday, TVA began shutting down the one unit that was causing the release, stopping the plume from the stack.
The material being burned was a mid-level sulfur coal. The particles seen coming from the stack were a product of burning that coal after it passed through the plant’s emissions control systems. TVA has taken samples of the materials released for analysis and will investigate the cause of the release.
Air quality during the winter months can be naturally influenced by rapidly moving arctic air masses. These arctic air masses tend to bring very clean, cold air to the Tennessee Valley.
These air masses move quickly from the pristine arctic region down into the continental United States and into the Southeast, in particular.
During the spring and summer months the air gets warmer, the jet stream retreats to the north, and the meteorology over the mid-South changes.
As a result of the slower moving air and increased humidity, regional haze increases.
This haze is caused by a multitude of natural and manmade sources over a multi-state area.
These haze episodes can last for several days and result in increased particle concentrations in the air over a multi-state region.
This means that residents in the southeastern states can to see increases in airborne particles as the seasons change from winter to spring and summer.
Measurements around Kingston are expected to exhibit a similar annual cycle. This does not necessarily mean that particles have increased due to ash being airborne around Kingston, but instead due to the stagnant air conditions in the region. Current air particulate sampling results indicate that the air quality in the area surrounding the ash spill, continue to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
TVA will continue its air monitoring and place all data on our external web site for review. Additionally, TDEC and EPA will independently conduct air monitoring.
We will continue our dust suppression efforts to ensure we keep dust from the site to a minimum and will immediately manage any dust issues that we become aware of at the site.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Valley Authority are issuing an advisory regarding boating, swimming and fishing on Watts Bar Reservoir.
Emory River Section
The lower section of the Emory River from MM 1.5 to MM 3.0 is currently closed for construction safety reasons. Read more.
Clinch River and Tennessee River Sections
Water- based recreation on the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers should not be impacted this season and can continue. It is safe to swim, boat and eat most kinds of fish. See TDEC's Web site for more information about already existing fish consumption advisories.
If you require further information or instructions regarding recreational use of Watts Bar Reservoir, please contact:
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator, Stephanie Y. Brown at
1-800-564-7577 or 678-575-8505.
TVA Public Information Manager, Barbara Martocci at
The Roane County Health Department at 865-354-1220.
TVA is committed to recovering the ash that was released from Kingston and restoring
the area in a manner that will protect public health and the environment. Available
information indicates the risk of physical health impacts from exposure to Kingston ash
is very low. However, individuals have expressed concerns about impacts to their health as a result of the ash release. The health guideline explains how TVA plans to respond to these concerns.
Selenium is a naturally occurring mineral element found in rocks and soil. In low level doses it is actually good for the health; most people are exposed to it daily through food, water and even as a vitamin supplement. TVA’s water quality monitoring has not detected levels of selenium in water in the Kingston area that violate standards, and we’ve seen no evidence that selenium is a problem. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, TVA and the State of Tennessee are continuing their sampling and monitoring. Read more
TVA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency
announced today an EPA Order and Agreement that documents the relationship between TVA and EPA in managing the clean-up of the Kingston ash spill and further ensures that TVA will meet all federal and state environmental requirements in restoring
View Order (PDF)
On April 1, 2009, Tom Kilgore, TVA President & Chief Executive Officer, directed Anda Ray, Senior Vice President, Office of Environment & Research, to oversee environmental response actions for the Kingston Ash Spill to ensure that response actions necessary to protect the public health or welfare or the environment are undertaken at Kingston consistent with the National Contingency Plan.
TVA has submitted its Corrective Action Plan to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency for the recovery efforts at Kingston Fossil Plant. The comprehensive plan outlines how TVA will proceed with planning and implementing all work needed to restore the site of the ash spill while maintaining public health and safety. View the plan. (PDF file 10.3 mb)
Here are some key facts on the Emory river related to the recent heavy rains in the area:
- High flows in the Emory River continue to go down, with no drinking water problems reported.
- The flow in the Emory River was about 4,600 cubic feet per second (cfs) as of Friday, May 8.
- Typical flows are between 700 and 1,300 cfs. The highest flow seen over the last several days, due to rain, was 69,000 cfs.
- TVA continues to monitor water quality as does the EPA and the state of Tennessee. Routine monitoring was suspended on Wednesday and Thursday due to concerns about employee safety. Routine monitoring is expected to begin again on Friday, May 8, depending on weather.
- Drinking water continues to be monitored daily by the Kingston Water Treatment plant, which has reported no problems with drinking water quality.
- Due to the large flows in the river, more cenospheres are moving downriver. TVA has increased the numbers of crews to work on removal of the cenospheres in the Emory, Clinch and Tennessee rivers.
- TVA is working hard to also remove the debris that is coming from upstream of the Kingston site and floating downriver from the Emory, as well as the Clinch River, with the cenospheres.
- For storms such as those the area has experienced recently, it is not unusual for large amounts of trash and debris to flow into and move downriver. As the material is collected by the booms in the rivers, TVA will remove it as quickly as possible.
- When it is safe to get back on the river, TVA will remap the river bottom to determine if ash moved and where it was deposited.
- Dredging resumed in the river on Thursday, May 7, with the hydrolabs continually monitoring various parameters to ensure ash in the river is not being further stirred up by the operation.
In order to determine if there were issues with
historic river sediment, samples of the sediment were
taken prior to the start of TVA’s dredging activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), at TVA’s
request, collected core samples of sediments at eight
locations in the Clinch River immediately downstream of the mouth of the Emory River and at two locations in the Emory River. Those samples were analyzed for 23 metals, PCBs, and chlordane. Because the goal was to find out if PCBs were present in older, deeper sediments, DOE segmented the cores into six-inch sections, beginning six inches below the point where the surface deposits stopped and historic deposits began. Then they tested each segment of the core. DOE detected PCBs in the historic sediment from the Emory River at mile 0.5. Consequently, TVA
performed additional random sampling of surface sediments (0 to 6 inches in depth) at eight locations between Emory River miles 0.3 and 0.8. TVA chose to analyze only the surface samples since
those are the most likely sediments to be disturbed by dredging operations if TVA were to dredge that part of the Emory River. At this time, there is no plan to dredge downstream of Emory River mile 1.5. Results for PCBs in the eight surface samples at mile
0.5 were all less than the reporting limit of 0.033 milligrams per kilogram. There were several instances of detection of PCBs at extremely low levels (0.010 mg/kg or less). Therefore, if recovery efforts were to disturb surface sediments, legacy PCBs do not appear to be a problem.
Studies and research conducted or supported by EPA, Electric Power and Research Institute (EPRI), government agencies, and universities indicates that the beneficial uses of coal combustion products have not been shown to present significant risks to human health or the environment. Read more on the EPA's Coal Combustion Products Partnership Web site.
TVA is taking measures to reduce the amount of airborne dust that may arise from the ash. To minimize dust and erosion, the undisturbed portion of the ash cell is being treated with Flexterra, a liquid dust suppression agent, composed primarily of wood fibers. This is a temporary measure for controlling dust and erosion while long-term recovery efforts continue.
Page Updated December 6, 2013 1:12 PM