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EPA Alerts W.Va. and Ohio Officials of Potential Concerns about AEP Coal Ash Impoundment

Release Date: 10/29/2009
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113;

WASHINGTON - As part of an ongoing comprehensive review of dam integrity of coal ash impoundment sites nationwide, EPA has alerted West Virginia public officials and first responders that an impoundment at American Electric Power’s (AEP) Philip Sporn facility requires additional safety testing. While EPA does not believe the impoundment’s dam is at immediate risk of failure given the information we currently have, out of an abundance of caution the agency has notified W.Va. and Ohio officials of the need for further testing to fully determine the impoundment’s integrity. AEP has committed to submitting a plan to carry out the safety tests. That plan will be provided to EPA on Monday, November 2. EPA will oversee the testing and use all necessary authority to assure the safety of the facility.

Following the failure of an impoundment at the TVA facility in Kingston, Tenn., in December 2008, EPA has been conducting on-site evaluations at electric utilities nationwide to determine the impoundments’ structural integrity.

As part of that effort, EPA contractors identified factors at the AEP Philip Sporn facility that are similar to the Kingston facility – specifically, both facilities piled coal ash and bottom ash around the impoundment to raise the impoundment’s walls. To ensure the impoundment’s stability, EPA is requiring AEP to conduct two tests: a liquefaction test to determine if the foundation will become unstable under certain pressures, and a slope stability test to determine if the impoundment’s embankment will fail under certain pressures.

The assessment of AEP’s Philip Sporn facility was conducted as part of the agency’s nationwide assessment of surface impoundments at electric utilities following the coal ash release at Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston, Tenn. facility. To date, EPA has completed reports on assessments of 22 facilities.

More information on the coal ash assessments:

Members of the public who are seeking additional information should call 800-438-2474.