The Tennessee Valley Authority is getting some help from another federal agency as it tries to clean up the worst spill ever from a coal ash pond.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which recently mapped the river bottom and shores of the Emory and nearby Clinch Rivers, plans to dredge the ash-filed Emory River to help restore navigation to the waterway. Ray Bess, a civilian engineer technician in the navigation branch in the Nashville district of the Army Corps, said the Corps is responsible for maintaining navigation on the Emory and Clinch Rivers where last week’s spill of a TVA ash pond filled in part of the rivers.
“It's our responsibility to clear the channel to make sure it's back to its original depth,” Mr. Bess said.
But Mr. Bess said TVA will be responsible for obtaining environmental permits for the dredging and paying for the cost of the cleanup.
The Corps will use Luhr Brothers Inc., a Columbia, Ill.,-based contractor for the Corps, to dredge the river bottom using an hydraulic system that will pump the sludge out of the river bottom like a vacuum cleaner. Mr. Bess said.
The Emory River in the past has been navigable up to Harriman, or mile market 12. The incident at the Kingston plant occurred at mile marker 2.5 and so far has clogged the river with up to 6 feet of ash and muck that spilled out of an elevated ash pond last week.
The Corps surveyed the navigation channel and river bottom of the Emory and Clinch rivers six months ago as part of its regular survey program to map the contours and depths of inland rivers for commercial navigation.