Environmental

2nd coal ash spill reported in Alabama

According to the Tenneseean, the TVA is investigating a leak from a gypsum pond at its Widows Creek coal-burning power plant in northeastern Alabama, a spokesman said at about 10:45 a.m. Central Time.

The leak, discovered before 6 a.m. has been stopped, according to John Moulton, with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

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“Some materials flowed into Widows Creek, although most of the leakage remained in the settling pond,” he said.

Gypsum is a byproduct of coal-burning power plants when “scrubbers” are added that use limestone spray to clean air emissions. This pulls sulfur dioxide from the emissions.

Tighter air emissions controls result in additional waste byproducts. Gypsum can be used in building materials.

Alabama environmental officials were on their way as of 10:15 a.m. Central Time to an spill at TVA’s Widows Creek coal-fired power plant in northeastern Alabama.

Scott Hughes, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management said, “The only thing we’ve got right now is that there was a release from a gypsum treatment operation.”

“We do understand that some of the material has reached Widows Creek.”

The creek from which TVA’s coal burning plant gets its name, crosses the plant property. Gypsum can be sold for use in wallboard, but markets have been slow and it like more standard ash can build up in waste ponds.

“We’re in the process of gathering more info and getting a full report.”

Kingston is the scene of a TVA ash pond that ruptured: Early on the morning of Dec. 22, more than a billion gallons of sludge flowed out of the pond, damaging a dozen homes and creating environmental havoc along the Emory River.

The Widows Creek Fossil Plant is located on Guntersville Reservoir on the Tennessee River. It has eight coal-fired units and was completed in 1965. The plant consumes about 10,000 tons of coal a day. The ash from that coal was in the pond that broke there.