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Groundwater contamination discovered around TVA coal-fired plants, report claims

November 18, 2013
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A recent report by the Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) claims that the groundwater around coal plants run by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is polluted, USA Today reported.

The advocacy group, founded by former EPA attorneys, used data obtained from TVA monitoring wells and stated that there was evidence that groundwater around all 11 coal plants operated by TVA has been heavily polluted.

The report pointed out that TVA should be taking more measures to protect drinking water supplies in the vicinity of its coal plants. In a statement released by TVA, the utility did not contest the findings in the report but noted that it was moving to adopt a more aggressive approach to control and prevent future coal ash contamination of water supplies.

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According to the report, groundwater around the facilities contained high levels of arsenic, boron, cobalt, manganese and sulfate, which are all chemicals associated with coal ash. Out of the 11 surveyed plants, five had groundwater that exceeded federal standards for arsenic levels, while elevated boron levels were registered at nine plants. All but one of the plants had groundwater levels that were above federal standards for manganese, the EIP found.

Meanwhile, prompted by a combination of factors, including environmental concerns, competition from shale gas and new regulations, TVA has announced that it will close eight units at three coal-fired plants.

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