TVA to Demolish Alabama Coal Plant to Make Way for Google’s “Clean” Data Center

The Tennessee Valley Authority is ready to move ahead with plans to demolish its Widows Creek coal plant located in Stevenson, Alabama. In accordance with environmental regulations, TVA analyzed environmental impacts associated with various demolition and closure options and released its Final Environmental Impact Statement in early June.

TVA will use controlled explosions to raze Units 1-8 at the plant and will work to ensure all hazardous materials and potential safety hazards are removed. Demolition will begin in late 2017, making way for the much heralded Google Data Center that will be built at the former coal plant site. Google announced its plans to build its 14th data center back in June 2015 and aims to power the facility with 100% renewable energy. The data center will provide 75-100 new full-time jobs and is a welcome economic development opportunity for northern Alabama.

Widow Creek’s coal ash, however, will stay in place – according to another recent TVA decision to close toxic coal ash impoundments at coal plants in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky. The 25 million cubic yards of coal ash currently stored on site will be capped in place, despite the fact that these impoundments are seeping toxic metals into the groundwater. Widows Creek’s coal ash impoundments already polluted surrounding water resources, when 10,000 gallons spilled into Widows Creek, a tributary of the Tennessee River, less than three weeks after the much larger and more infamous Kingston coal ash spill in December 2008.

SACE will continue to push TVA to remove coal ash from the Widows Creek site and move it to permanent, lined storage facilities that are better equipped to handle toxic waste. We look forward to seeing the site’s transition from dirty to clean energy and will continue to report on Google’s progress bringing clean energy jobs and infrastructure to the Southeast.

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The area surrounding Widows Creek is contaminated with Mercury. There is a no consumption advisory for Widows Creek, and a fish consumption limit in The Tennessee River surrounding and downstream from Widows Creek as a result of TVA’s coal waste disposal. Reference: https://www.scribd.com/doc/316249928/Alabama-Fish-Advisory-Update-2016 Capping the coal ash holding ponds is not an answer, heavy metals will continue to leak into the ground water and the Tennessee River as these coal ash ponds do not have liners preventing chemicals from leaching into ground water.

Other areas surrounding coal ash holding areas in Alabama also have fish consumption advisories due to heavy metals contamination.

The TVA has also participated in horrible discriminatory action by dumping coal ash on African American communities in South Alabama.


Comment by Garry Morgan on June 22, 2016 2:14 pm


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