Jan 8 2009
10:50 am

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation forwarded their initial report regarding the TVA Ocoee #3 sludge release into the Ocoee River.

The sludge release appears to have occurred Sunday afternoon (Jan. 4 2009) around 2:30 PM. The U.S. Forest Service at Cherokee National Forest and the Ocoee White Water Center alerted TDEC on Monday.

According to TDEC, a foul-smelling, black sludge/sediment/ooze was deposited in the Olympic section of the river, up to 3.5 feet deep in some places.

The sludge release caused a fish kill, but the dead fish are buried in the sludge so a count was not possible. No live fish were observed in that section of the river.

A 2008 Forest Service survey of the fish population showed fish were thriving in the Olympic section, which TDEC says is "remarkable" because there had not been any fish in that portion of the river "for over 100 years." TDEC credits water quality restoration efforts by Occidental Petroleum and Glenn Springs Holding in the historic mining district, efforts which appear to have been wiped out at least temporarily by the sludge release.

TVA told TDEC that they opened the bottom sluice gate of Ocoee #3 to draw it down in preparation for repairs on the leaking Ocoee #2 dam.

TDEC says there were no permit requests or coordination with TDEC regarding special operations of the Ocoee dams and powerhouses, nor had there been any coordination with Tennessee State Parks or the U.S. Forest Service.

smalc's picture

I remember attending a

I remember attending a technical presentation(I don't remember who the speaker was with, maybe TVA) several years ago. I remember him saying the lifespan of the Ocoee dams were limited by the sedimentation rate, not by structural issues as you would normally assume.

R. Neal's picture

Metal Release from Bottom

Metal Release from Bottom Sediments of Ocoee Lake No. 3, a Primary Catchment Area for the Ducktown Mining District

...the metal-rich sediment of the lake should be considered as potentially hazardous to bottom-dwelling aquatic species and other organisms in the local food chain. In addition, if the reservoir is dredged or if the dam is removed, the accumulated sediment may have to be treated for recovery of sorbed metals.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

TN Progressive

TN Politics

Knox TN Today

Local TV News

News Sentinel

State News

Local .GOV

Wire Reports

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

Search and Archives