July 22, 2009

TVA vows revamp after coal ash spill

The largest U.S. public utility will revamp its procedures and culture after a huge coal ash spill exposed broad problems in its operations, the utility said.

A resolution by the Tennessee Valley Authority's board calls for a plan to correct deficiencies at all TVA coal ash ponds.

It also calls for an outside firm to help the utility create a plan to restructure the utility's procedures and culture, including systems, standards, controls and accountability.

This is some tough medicine but it's good medicine, the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel quoted Chief Executive Officer Tom Kilgore as telling board members after outside consultants found widespread deficiencies with how the utility runs and maintains its coal ash storage operations.

The necessary systems, controls and culture were not in place to properly manage coal ash operations at the TVA's 11 coal-fired power plants, Atlanta's McKenna Long & Aldridge said.

The consultants' $2 million review followed a disastrous spill of more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash Dec. 22 at the Kingston Fossil Plant about 40 miles west of Knoxville.

The spill occurred after a dam at the plant failed, sending ash over the landscape and into a system of rivers.