Note: This story was last updated at 4:50 p.m.
The vast majority of the material tested in Claxton, after residents raised concerns about an unidentified substance falling around the Bull Run Fossil Plant, was soil, a state official said Thursday.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said it sampled material in the area, and TDEC Deputy Communications Director Kim Schofinski released a short statement Thursday.
“TDEC takes the concerns of citizens very seriously, and in response to their direct requests, we independently conducted sampling of the material in the area,” the statement said. “We also reviewed lab results from samples taken by TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) and citizens…All results indicated the vast majority of the material was soil. As it relates to coal ash, sampling results ranged from non-detectable amounts, amounts too low to quantify, or trace amounts.
“We are in the process of contacting homeowners who contacted us regarding this issue.”
While the vast majority of the material was soil, trace amounts of plant matter, oil soot, and paint film were present in some samples, Schofinski said.
TDEC said samples were collected by TVA and TDEC on September 17 and September 20, respectively, from various private properties in the Claxton community. Homeowners also collected their own samples. Samples were sent to two different accredited laboratories, Schofinski said. TVA’s results were also independently reviewed by a third company.
TDEC said it cannot speculate about how the material was deposited.
WYSH Radio in Clinton previously reported that the unidentified particles had fallen in the area around TVA’s Bull Run Fossil Plant, affecting at least two neighborhoods, and landing on vehicles, houses, mailboxes, and driveways.
Anderson County Commission Chairman Tracy Wandell, who represents Claxton’s District 1 on the Commission, told WYSH that he had reached out to TVA to see if the particulates might be coming from Bull Run. TVA told him that they have checked all the equipment at Bull Run and had not found anything that indicated the substance was coming from the facility. Wandell also asked TDEC to conduct testing to see if they could determine what the yellowish substance was.
“As Bull Run is a coal-burning plant, many in the community worry that the substance could be coal ash produced when the fossil fuel is burned,” WYSH reported.
The radio station reported that at least two environmental workers were in the area about a month ago, taking photos, speaking with neighbors, and taking samples.
TVA voted earlier this year to close Bull Run by the end of 2023, which has led to increased discussion of what to do with the coal ash stored at the facility.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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