Note: This story was last updated at 4:50 p.m.
The Tennessee Valley Authority said Thursday that the material that caused concern in Claxton, near the Bull Run Fossil Plant, is consistent with surface soil.
The material had reportedly fallen on vehicles, houses, mailboxes, and driveways in Claxton near Bull Run, a coal-fired TVA power plant. That raised concerns that the material might be coming from Bull Run.
On Thursday, TVA said it collected 11 samples and received three samples from a home owner and sent them to an independent laboratory for testing. That was in response to the concerns about the airborne materials found on vehicles and property around Bull Run, TVA said.
“Results show the material is not coming from air emissions at Bull Run and is consistent with surface soil in the area,” TVA said. “TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) also sampled material at several locations, and their results affirm that the material is consistent with surface soil.”
TDEC said Thursday that its results—and the results of samples it reviewed from TVA and residents—showed the vast majority of the material tested in Claxton was soil.
Regarding coal ash, the sampling results showed a range that included non-detectable amounts, amounts too low to quantify, or trace amounts, TDEC said.
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.
While releasing a brief statement about the test results on Thursday, TVA said it is committed to being a good neighbor.
“The safety of our employees and our friends and neighbors in the local community is always our priority,” TVA said.
It wasn’t immediately clear from either the TVA or TDEC statement how the materials that are consistent with surface soil or mostly soil might have fallen on objects in Claxton.
Oak Ridge Today asked both TVA and TDEC if they knew how the material might have fallen on vehicles, driveways, and mailboxes. TVA said it did not know.
“We were able to verify that the material is not coming from our operations and that our air emissions controls are functioning properly,” TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks said.
TDEC said it cannot speculate about how the material was deposited.
Anderson County Commission Chairman Tracy Wandell, who represents Claxton’s District 1 on the Commission, told WYSH about a month ago 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.
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