TVA finds arsenic, other toxins in ground water beneath Memphis plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority has reported finding high levels of arsenic and other toxins in ground water underlying a Southwest Memphis power plant where thousands of tons of coal ash are impounded, reports The Commercial Appeal.

The arsenic, measured at levels more than 300 times the federal drinking-water standard, was discovered in monitoring wells at the Allen Fossil Plant. Excessive amounts of lead also showed up in the 50-foot-deep wells that were installed to check for any pollution emanating from ponds containing ash and boiler slag generated by burning coal.

The tainted ground water lies within a half-mile of where TVA recently drilled five 650-foot-deep wells into the Memphis Sand aquifer, the source of local drinking water, from which it plans to pump 3.5 million gallons daily to cool a natural gas-fueled power plant under construction. Local scientists and environmentalists had opposed the wells, saying the pumping could pull contaminants into the Memphis Sand.

However, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation officials say they believe the pollution is restricted to the upper-most aquifer and does not pose a threat to the much deeper Memphis Sand.

“We are confident the contaminants found in TVA wells at the Allen Fossil Plant are not impacting drinking water. Out of an abundance of caution, we have requested Memphis Light, Gas and Water (Division) to sample its treated water in order to give that assurance to customers,” TDEC spokesman Eric Ward said in an email.





3 Responses to TVA finds arsenic, other toxins in ground water beneath Memphis plant

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    Dwight Jewell says:

    Well DUH! You scrub it out of the air and pile it up on the ground, and it has leached into the water. Who would have thought that water goes down into the ground? Wow what a great discovery. I guess they will invent the wheel next!

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    Cannoneer2 says:

    Scientists don’t run TDEC or TVA, politicians who likely have never darkened the door of a science classroom do. They usually turn a deaf ear to scientific opinion unless it fits their agenda.

  • Avatar
    Cannoneer2 says:

    I helped fight a potential threat to the Memphis Sands/Claiborne Aquifer at the very beginning of my scientific career. Why not test the UN-treated water and publish those results? The findings might be very interesting.

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