Tennessee Valley Authority removing asbestos near plant

KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority started removing asbestos-contaminated material last week that was unearthed during construction near its Kingston Fossil Plant. Officials at the utility have said they do not know where the material came from but it could be part of an old burn pit. It was discovered in September while digging to create a new landfill for coal ash disposal.

The Knoxville News Sentinel first reported on the asbestos, which requires a special permit for disposal. TVA got the permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation on Dec. 3, Brooks said. The permit says up to 22,000 cubic yards (16,820 cubic meters) of material will be removed, including up to 40 cubic yards (30.6 cubic meters) of asbestos-containing material.

"We think it will turn out to be more like 10-20 cubic yards, but we won’t know until we’ve done all the removal," Brooks said in an email. That is about 8-15 cubic meters.

Brooks said the permit covers removal of "everything we found like wood, metal, etc." but there is no practical way to separate that from the asbestos-containing material. It is all going to a landfill in Loudon County that is permitted to store asbestos.

The Kingston plant was the site of a massive coal ash spill in 2008.

TVA is the nation's largest public utility, serving 10 million people in parts of seven Southeastern states.