TVA unearths abandoned tunnel at Norris Engineering Labs

Local News

NORRIS, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee Valley Authority researchers made a spooky discovery recently.

During work at TVA’s Norris Engineering Labs, a 40-foot long abandoned tunnel, with no records or indication of existing, was unearthed.

The public utility speculates the 10-foot-wide tunnel was associated with the Norris kiln, a bomb shelter for use during the cold war, or a former passageway to the old refractory building.

“When working in legacy space, especially a historic R&D site, there is always an element of the unknown,” Cindy Light, Norris Consolidation Project manager, said. “Discovery poses a real challenge to the project’s budget and schedule, but it’s also really interesting to be a part of as we are literally uncovering history while working to preserve it at the same time.” 

Staff sent a drone into the tunnel to get a better look inside.

Excavation activities near the tunnel have been paused until a determination can be made on how to proceed. TVA plans to investigate into what was the tunnel’s purpose.

“Access to the tunnel is currently prohibited due to environmental, health and safety concerns; however through a collaborative effort with TVA’s Unmanned Aerial Systems program, we are able to explore the interior,” Light said. “This drone footage is the first time anyone’s seen the inside of the tunnel since it was closed up, likely 30 to 40 years ago, if not more.”


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