The Tennessee Valley Authority is ready to move ahead with plans to demolish its Widows Creek coal plant located in Stevenson, Alabama. In accordance with environmental regulations, TVA analyzed environmental impacts associated with various demolition and closure options and released its Final Environmental Impact Statement in early June.
TVA will use controlled explosions to raze Units 1-8 at the plant and will work to ensure all hazardous materials and potential safety hazards are removed. Demolition will begin in late 2017, making way for the much heralded Google Data Center that will be built at the former coal plant site. Google announced its plans to build its 14th data center back in June 2015 and aims to power the facility with 100% renewable energy. The data center will provide 75-100 new full-time jobs and is a welcome economic development opportunity for northern Alabama.
Widow Creek’s coal ash, however, will stay in place – according to another recent TVA decision to close toxic coal ash impoundments at coal plants in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky. The 25 million cubic yards of coal ash currently stored on site will be capped in place, despite the fact that these impoundments are seeping toxic metals into the groundwater. Widows Creek’s coal ash impoundments already polluted surrounding water resources, when 10,000 gallons spilled into Widows Creek, a tributary of the Tennessee River, less than three weeks after the much larger and more infamous Kingston coal ash spill in December 2008.
SACE will continue to push TVA to remove coal ash from the Widows Creek site and move it to permanent, lined storage facilities that are better equipped to handle toxic waste. We look forward to seeing the site’s transition from dirty to clean energy and will continue to report on Google’s progress bringing clean energy jobs and infrastructure to the Southeast.