Cumberland Fossil Plant has 18 groundwater monitoring wells, 16 of which have been polluted above federal advisory levels based on samples collected between January 14, 2010 and August 31, 2017. Groundwater at this site contains unsafe levels of boron, sulfate, manganese, cobalt, arsenic, molybdenum, radium, lead and lithium.Site description
The Cumberland Fossil Plant is located on the shores of the Barkley Reservoir on the Cumberland River. It has two coal-fired generating units. Cumberland's ash disposal area was originally one large ash pond. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) installed sulfur dioxide scrubbers in 1994, and in 1995-1996 separated the area into its current configuration. The ash pond receives wet-sluiced bottom ash, which is dredged and stacked in the dry fly ash disposal area, and fly ash is dry-handled and stacked in the dry fly ash disposal area. Gypsum is wet-sluiced to the gypsum disposal area or directly routed to a neighboring gypsum processing plant. The dry fly ash and gypsum disposal areas are therefore built over an unknown amount of sluiced bottom and fly ash that was left in the original ash pond. The TVA has had ongoing problems with seepage along the west perimeter dike, along the bank of Wells Creek. Groundwater under the site is in contact with ash and, in some places, gypsum.
This site is among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of potential damage cases.
For more information about coal ash in Tennessee, see Earthjustice's fact sheet, Tennessee and Coal Ash Disposal in Ponds and Landfill.