Friday, February 6, 2009

TVA ARAP PERMIT--please comment and request hearing



TVA just applied for an ARAP permit from TDEC (TN Dept of Envio and Conver) regarding the ash disaster. One of the things that will trigger a hearing is public interest. So we need as many people to email in, and write, and fax request in to TDEC for a public hearing as possible. Also you can make comments. Please do. Here is the link to the PDF of the permit. After that is a sample letter. After that are some sample comments one of our UMD volunteers generated. Please help numbers will count in this.

Here is the link to the proposed ARAP permit:

You can email your request at:

Here is a sample letter from UMD--please feel free to modify and use. Its the exact same thing as below:

Mr. Paul Davis, Director

Division of Water Pollution Control

Tennessee Department of Environment

and Conservation

6th Floor, L&C Annex

401 Church Street

Nashville, Tennessee




Dear Mr. Davis,

I am requesting a public hearing on the above ARAP permit application. I am on the board of United Mountain Defense and we have several comments we would like to make regarding the permit. We would like to request that the hearing mirror the strip mine hearing formats in that they be open, public and recorded.

I also request notification of any other related hearings or permit applications relating to the Ash disaster. I would request to be notified of the comment period length as well.

Yours truly,

Chris Irwin

United Mountain Defense


POB 20363

Knoxville, Tennessee



Hey y'all,

I am cutting through TVAs proposed plan and wanted to make some quick comments while I was doing it. For me all of the action is in part 5.0--that deals with monitoring.

Hey--this is an application for an ARAP--we need to scream to TDEC for a public hearing immediately! They will grant these when we do ARAP permits--also ARAPs must have public comment periods. We need to give TDEC comments and request for open pubic hearings--public interest will trigger a hearing.

I am going to use the TVA board meeting as my comment period also.

K first on the dredging plan--after you open it ignore everything and go straight to the back of it. They have great pictures with diagrams which will make everything else make allot more sense. After looking in the back I skip to the section 5.0 cause that involves monitoring which is what interest me. 6.0 is interesting as well because it deals with workers health regs while they are in the field.

5.1 is table of how macontinuousous conductivity hydrolab meters they want to have runnings. Its far to few--and the meters need to be a multiple levels in the stream. There needs to continuousous meters at mile .5 mile 1. mile 2. mile 5 and down the clinch for at lease 10 miles. Mocontinuousous metering is my comment on this.

And the metering data needs to be real time to tInternetnet so everyone can see it--and it needs to beindependentlyly monitored by the EPA. Actually this is true of all the test.

5.2 They are saying samples three times a week at 5 locations and that is inadequate. They need to be testing at least daily--esp while dredging. They need to be testing WHILE dredging activities are ongoing --not just early in the morning or late in the evening. On rain events the testing should increase to at least twice a day. The test also need to be more than just 5 locations--it should be bank to bank and center at points all the way down from the spill. Specifically--if any visible plume going downstream is reported they should test immediately in that plume. Any dust plumes created by dredging should have a continuous meter in it and samples should be taken, tested--and sent to inpendant labs that post the results to thInternetet.

Using turbidity in the clinch river iridiculousus. If turbidity is stirred up in thEmoryry river it needs trigger additional sampling.

What metals are they testing for?

Table 2

Test need to be a different depths on both sides of the stream including the middle. Just doing 11 samples in a day is not enough--that number should be closer to 50.

Table 3

They need to be specific--what heavy metals are they testing for? The EPA or anyone other than TVA should be testing for ALL heavy metals.

5.3 BMPs

All the best management practices must be MANDATORY. Violations must be reported quickly to the EPA, TDEC and posted on theInternett.

They need to GET and NPDES permit to do this. The pond should have acontinuouss hydrolab meter in it as well. Additionally the samples should be taken to be sent to the lab from both the pond and any drainage into any river, creek stream or body of water.

The sampling for total suspended solids should be done daily--not just monthly.


This should say that BMPs must always be observed and BOTH TDEC AND EPA must sign off on them.

5.4 is inadequate. If turbidity goes above background in a stream for more than 15 minutes ALL BMPS should being used. Waiting for a 24 hour period to trigger this is WAAAAY to long. The dredging will not be happening on a 24 hour rotation. So you will get breaks in the 24 hr trigger period which translates into making this paragraph useless. The action levels should me MUCH shorter and any modifications should be made a close to immediately as possible. 24 hrs is way to long.

6.0 Health and safety plan.

It says nothing about the standard that shall apply. This material should be treated as a hazardous waste--that standard should applied. OSHA regs for moving dirt should not apply to arsenic laden fly ash. This is key. It should also state explicitly that all state and federal law applies to the health and safety plan. All contractors and subcontractors should attend trainings about the importance of proper safety standards while in the field. These trainings should be organized by OSHA.

Whoo--the maps at the end are VERY informative.


It appears they have a hell of allot more ash than "temporary" storage area and tthat'sdisturbing on many different levels. Exactly how high and deep is this pit going to be.


These stations need to be at both side of the stream AND in the middle. River right along the back is the path we have seen the cenosperes take--which makes it a logical flow patter to place the monitoring stations. Where the cenospheres were drifting is also a predictable path for heavy metals and mud to be traveling.

CRM0 needs to be at both ends of the stream as well as in the middle. This is true of all the monitoring and sampling.

Also--no more stations are shown down the clinch river--specifically at river left and in the middle of the stream.


This part is beneath the pictures but worth reading. TVA says that after the barges unload the ash they are going to "dewater" and go back to load up again. Exactly what and where is this de"water" from, and where is it being "dewatered" to. Accumulated water in ALL barges should not be released anywhere but the holding ponds.

If the mechanical dredging of the eEmoryriver ash creates any plume or downstream sedimentation all work should stop until better management practice can be iimplemented If the mechanical dredging creates any amount of dust it its work workers should wear respirators and work should end immediately until dust suppression can be iimplemented

If the loading and unloading of ash from the barges creates dust or a plume in the water operations should cease and modified to end the plume.

At least 2 turbidity screens should be used on all projects.

TVA says that TDEC took a qquantityof ash--shook it up and let it sit for an hour then tested it to determine how much heavy metals would be moved from the supernatant.

They need to do this from a dozen different locations. They are basing their entire estimate of how much heavy metals would be moved per dredges ssupernatanton what appears to be a single location and perhaps a single test. IF they are going to premise so many of their ccalculationsre how much total heavy metals are being moved they need to do multiple ash test like this at multiple locations. And rather than doing it as it settles--they need to take a bucket of the fly ash --ccentrifugethe water out--then test the water. This will give a more accurate reading of the metals in the ash than letting it settle and testing the water.

Yes--the next chart they are showing how many pounds of heavy metals would be moved in the ssupernatantliquid from the dredges. They seem to be basing this on a single sample from presumably a single site.

They are using metal loadings from a previous NPDES permit for a normal ash pond discharge to ccalculatemetals

chart--mixed ash pond & CCW concentrations & TDEC criteria--any applicable Federal water criteria should be included and the ccalculationsbased on which ever one is HIGHER.


Right after this they make a finding of no significant impact FONSI from the final discharges.
They are basing their calculations on this finding on anther NPDES permit and presumably a 1 sample they did at 1 location--this is iinadequatefor determining no significant impact.

K tthat'sit.


Calumny said...

Re: TVA Emory River Dredging Plan, Kingston Fossil Plant Ash Recovery Project.


Assumptions before reading; compare to the actual document so I can boast:

I'll look at the thing if you send it, but will make a daring prediction that it will be some vague, longwinded POS copied & pasted from an old policy statement or procedural guideline. Of course, you'd want some more specific judgment than that.

'Course, considering what POS stands for, you may consider me prejudiced....

The trick, aside from getting TVA off their collective bureaucratic hineys to do anything at all while there is still time to make a difference, will be how to remove the dreck without stirring more water through it and releasing more contamination. Hydraulic (suction) dredging is definitely to be avoided, at least without some sophisticated filtering system, because it does exactly that. Think of a very large wet/dry shop vac, on a barge... [or if you have ever used one of those aquarium vacuums that suck gunk off the gravel while returning the water to the tank, that’s the principle too].

I point out, before reading, that the spill is into the upper reaches of a TVA reservoir (Watts Bar Lake), so they CAN lower the water level if they really want to, and bulldoze instead of dredge. Alas, the plant that turned out the fly ash in the first place probably needs the high water level to function and its operation is clearly TVA's top priority. Other problems for using this method include complaints from lakeside residents & businesses, and the facts that letting the ash drain by any method will let contaminated water seep out of it, and that much of the ash will have settled into the old watercourse, which will reactivate and tend to wash away the deposit when the water level is lowered.

Possibly the best containment method would be to build a new berm isolating the contaminated area (which will continue to grow until something is done) or at least the most contaminated area, during cleanup. This would probably cost more than building the lake in the first place. Betcha anything that's why TVA is waffling & weaseling and not talking about best management practices or best available technology. And we already know how well they build berms.

To paraphrase: 'When a can of worms is opened, it is possible to seal them up again, but it takes a bigger can'. In this case, probably a much bigger can.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, page 1 - 2 -----------

The Emory River’s channel seems to be the whole object of “The Phase 1 Dredging Plan”. The real object is probably to be able to claim that they have a plan.

Neither phase of the plan cleans up anything but the channel, which is underwater anyway because it’s an inlet of Watts Bar Lake. They admit this on page 2 – 1, where they call it Watts Bar Reservoir.

Forget the legacy sediments; they’re irrelevant relative to the contaminated ones.

Yep, they’re going for “primarily hydraulic dredging”.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, page 1 - 4 -----------

Gotta love the way they have columns headed “early start” and “early finish”, and are still installing liner in the temporary storage area throughout March. As long as they are still building the storage area, they’re not using it. I see no actual start for the (token) dredging.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, page 2 - 1-----------

They mention a need for more dredging, not specified.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, page 3 - 1 -----------

Erosion control is good. Last month would have been better.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, page 5 - 3 -----------

Finally, mention of Best Management Practices… but for the dewatering, meaning placement of the dreck they plan to actually move.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, page 5 - 4 -----------

I’d really like to see monitoring of the return water. What are they letting run back into the lake?

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, page 5 - 5 -----------

Interesting list of elements; darned if I know how they chose those amounts, though. Some of those will be really easy to keep below toxic levels, for example iron, which does not dissolve in oxygenated water at anywhere near dangerous concentrations. Others are cumulative poisons and dangerous at nearly any measureable concentration.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, page 6 - 1 -----------

The health & safety plan only refers to workers. Um, how about residents? Recreational users? People downstream? People eating fish? Looks like a token legal minimum, to me. Now they can tell everyone that they have a health & safety plan.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, Figure 9 -----------

Whaddaya know, the continuous sampling location closest to the spill will be at the plant’s water inlet.

-----------Notes from actually reading the thing, generally -----------

What’s the obsession with restoring the original channel instead of the original water chemistry? Since when is legacy sediment a priority to anyone? Answer: When preserving legacy sediment is the easiest standard to meet. Look, they have a conservation standard.

Good news from the pictures is that if they put a new channel through the sand bar just NE of the main spill, it will divert current away from the spill and allow better containment around the main spill area during a thorough cleanup. Bad news is that they specifically plan not to do that.

Why is it such a total pain in the ass to comment? Don't you want comments? Betcha that's why I'm the first.

Calumny said...

I just noticed not noticing something: There are continuous sampling points, and a list of things they'll sample, but see which of those conditions they'll be sampling continuously:

“Turbidity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and pH”. There is NO mention of continuously monitoring for dangerous levels of the elements they’re supposed to be watching. If there won’t be continuous monitoring for those, there should be monitoring on a random schedule to avoid bias. If you’re not avoiding bias, it’s not scientific.

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