John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Application of Ecological Risk Assessment in Managing Residual Fly Ash in TVA's Watts Bar Reservoir, Tennessee

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The Tennessee Valley Authority conducted a Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment (BERA) for the Kingston Fossil Plant ash release site to evaluate potential effects of residual coal ash on biota in Watts Bar Reservoir, Tennessee. The BERA was in response to a release of 4.1 million m3 of coal ash on December 22, 2008. It used multiple lines of evidence to assess risks for 17 different ecological receptors to roughly 400,000 m3 of residual ash in the Emory and Clinch Rivers. Herein we provide a brief overview of the BERA results and then focus on how the results were used to help shape risk management decisions. Those decisions included selecting monitored natural recovery for remediation of the residual ash in the Emory and Clinch Rivers and designing a long‐term monitoring plan that includes adaptive management principles for timely adjustment to changing conditions. This study demonstrates the importance of site‐specific ecological data (e.g., tissue concentrations for food items, reproductive data and population data) in complex ecological risk assessments. It also illustrates the value of EPA's data quality objectives process in building consensus and identifying multiple uses of results. The relatively limited adverse effects of this likely worst‐case scenario for ash‐related exposures in a lotic environment provide important context for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new coal combustion residue disposal rules. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2014 SETAC

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