KINGSTON (WATE) - The Tennessee Valley Authority marked a milestone in the cleanup of the site of the 2008 coal ash spill.
TVA announced Friday that they have completed the excavation of ash from the spill site. More than three million cubic yards of ash have been removed.
Crews have been working almost around the clock since the spill trying to clean-up the mess.
"This is the last area where we have ash that was in the water that we're removing and so we're celebrating getting all of that out," said Kingston Recovery Project General Manager Kathryn Nash.
According to the EPA, not all the ash will be removed.
"We deliberately left about 510,000 yards of cubic ash in the lower Emory and the upper Clinch," said EPA project manager Craig Zeller. "The material that we left there was co-mingled with some Cesium 137 that came from some of DOE Oak Ridge's operation further up in the Clinch."
Even with this huge milestone, crews still have a ways to go.
"Although we've come a long way. We still have a year and a half to go on this project, so there is still a lot of work to be done," said Nash.
The agency plans to cover the ash and permanently store it on site, surrounded by an earthquake-resistant, reinforced wall that is anchored into bedrock up to 70 feet deep.
TVA said the wall is one of the largest walls of its type ever constructed. Work on the wall is expected to wrap up this fall.
Workers are also in the process of placing a liner over the containment cell and expect to wrap that work up by late 2014.
TVA is continuing to monitor water quality in the river system and build the recreation areas promised as part of the cleanup.
The entire Kingston Recovery Project is expected to be finished by early 2015.
It was forecast to cost $1.187 billion, and is expected to come in under budget.
The Tennessee Valley Authority says it has reached a milestone in its cleanup of the ash spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant.More >>
The Tennessee Valley Authority says it has reached a milestone in its cleanup of the ash spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant: the completion of an earthquake resistant, underground retaining wall around the containment cell at the recovery site.More >>