Public hearing set for Bull Run water permit changes

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Water Resources will hold a public hearing January 12 at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation at 761 Emory Road in Oak Ridge on the issuance of the pollutant discharge elimination system permit issued to the Tennessee Valley Authority for the Bull Run Fossil Plant.
The permit is to authorize discharges of cooling water, processed wastewater and stormwater runoff from the TVA Bull Run Plant, and operation of a cooling water intake system from Bull Run’s electric generating plant. If approved, it would allow TVA to release more pollutants associated with coal ash, the toxic by-product of burning coal to generate electricity, into the Clinch River.

TVA has a water permit that allows it to take water from the Clinch, use it for cooling or waste processing and then release it back into the river after treatment. It is up to TVA to ensure that what it puts back in is in compliance with federal regulations, and TDEC monitors those activities.

According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, EPA guidelines were changed in 2020 during the Trump administration, which eased standards established in 2015 for two types of waste and different types of plants. Specifically, the paper points out that the 2020 rule “reduced restrictions on the wastewater generated from the process of Flue Gas Desulfurization and Bottom Ash.”

TVA’s draft permit for Bull Run lists the plant under the retirement subcategory, which requires the least amount of testing of water put back into the Clinch.

The meeting on January 12th will begin at 5 pm with an informal question and answer session.
At 6 p.m., a formal public hearing will be held.
The meeting moderator may limit the length of oral comments to allow all parties an opportunity to speak and will require that all comments be relevant to the proposed permit action and the Division of Water Resources issues.
TDEC staff considers written comments accepted at the hearing and through January 26, 2023, to be part of the hearing record.
Written comments can be emailed to Vojin Janjic at
Interested persons may obtain additional information, including a copy of the draft permit by contacting Janjic at
These documents may also be found on TDEC’s Water Resources Permits data viewer.

Here is a link to the News-Sentinel’s very informative report.

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