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TVA Fact Sheet

Widows Creek Gypsum Pond

January 14, 2009

Water quality samples taken from the Tennessee River downstream from TVA’s Widows Creek fossil power plant continue to meet primary drinking water standards for metals.

TVA, EPA, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) are using a formal testing plan to monitor water quality on the Tennessee River and to record the affect on the water in the discharge system on the Widows Creek site after TVA discovered that a gypsum settling pond had inadvertently overflowed. The plan monitors four locations on the Tennessee River and three on the plant site.

The levels of metals, solids and nutrients detected from the Tennessee River locations are below the national primary drinking water standards that apply to public water systems for treated water and are conservative for the protection of human health.

Off site samples are drawn from the drinking water intake for Scottsboro, Ala., about 20 miles downstream from Widows Creek, from the Tennessee River about one mile upstream from Widows Creek, from a location about 600 feet downstream from the confluence of Widows Creek and the Tennessee River, and from a location adjacent to a boat landing near the Highway 117 bridge that crosses the Tennessee River about five miles downstream from Widows Creek.

On site water samples are taken from the gypsum settling pond and at two established sampling locations on the site.  As expected, these samples show elevated levels of metals due to the accumulation of solid material from the overflow; however, the majority of this material has been contained on site and these elevated levels pose no threat to the public or employees.

TVA’s recovery plan is collecting this material and returning it to the holding ponds.  TVA, EPA, and ADEM are analyzing data from the area to compute how much solid material remains in the settling pond and how much was inadvertently discharged from the settling pond.

Water samples were taken immediately after TVA discovered that the gypsum settling pond had inadvertently overflowed.  Two water samples were taken on the Tennessee River -- one approximately 1,000 yards upstream and the other about 1,000 yards downstream from the mouth of Widows Creek.  A third water sample was taken in the settling pond which is on TVA property. (See testing results)

EPA and ADEM continue to assist in monitoring response operations and reviewing TVA’s sampling data (available online at  TVA, EPA, and ADEM will conduct all actions necessary to ensure the protection of public health, welfare and the environment.

Previous Updates

January 11, 2009

January 10, 2009

January 9, 2009




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