Gallatin residents have a new opportunity to receive information and provide feedback regarding the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) management of the Gallatin Fossil Plant.
TVA announced its plan during a public meeting last month to form a community action group with up to 14 volunteer members by the end of the year. Applications from those interested in serving will be accepted through Oct. 16.
The group, which will not serve in an advisory function, will instead work to identify and share community concerns with TVA while also having a constructive and impartial dialogue in the community and providing information about ongoing activities at the facility, according to Scott Brooks, spokesman for TVA.
“The goal is for two-way communication and an overall increase in engagement and awareness,” Brooks said. “(Members) will represent the community with any concerns or questions and then they would be the conduit to take those answers and feedback back to the community.”
Each member of the group will be evaluated and selected by a third-party agency. In order to be considered for a position, applicants must be at least 18 years old and a full-time resident of Sumner County or a direct neighbor of the Gallatin Fossil Plant.
TVA plans to “absolutely” address concerns that are raised by the group, which is expected to hold its first meeting before the end of the year, according to Brooks.
“We’re really looking for people who are willing to actively engage and who want to engage not only with us but also with the community,” Brooks added. “It’s about giving those a voice who may not historically have had one.”
The announcement of the group’s formation came three months after TVA agreed to dig up nearly 12 million cubic yards of coal ash stored at the Gallatin Fossil Plant as part of the settlement of a lawsuit with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) that was announced in June.
In 2015, TDEC filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court alleging violations of the Tennessee Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act as a result of TVA’s coal ash disposal practices at the facility.
As part of the settlement agreement, TVA is required to remove coal combustion residuals (CCR) from its unlined 390-acre ash pond complex on site and remediate the area in accordance with state law. The excavated material must either be placed in a lined, permitted landfill or recycled for use in concrete or other construction materials.
A final environmental assessment report to identify the extent of soil, surface water and groundwater contamination at the facility will also be required to be completed.
“We noticed over the last year or two that there’s as much misinformation as there are actual facts about our coal combustion residual activities,” Brooks said about the new outreach effort. “Creating this Community Action Group is part of our commitment to the safety of workers and residents in Gallatin and the surrounding area.”
Located on 1,950 acres along the north bank of the Cumberland River, the Gallatin Fossil Plant has been in operation since 1959 and currently provides power to 565,000 homes.
TVA is in the process of developing a plan for removal of material from the ash pond complex, which must be submitted to TDEC by Sept. 30, 2020. Once the plan is approved, TVA will have 20 years to complete the work, which officials estimate will cost $640 million.
Anyone interested in serving on the volunteer community action group for TVA’s Gallatin Fossil Plant should email their name and contact information to email@example.com or call 865-632-2911 by Oct. 16. For more information visit www.mpf.com/tvacommittees