GALLATIN, Tenn. - Gallatin leaders toured a coal-fired power plant owned and operated by TVA to determine how vulnerable it is to spills.
A wall breached at a retention site at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant on Dec. 22. Water and ash covered 300 acres and left some nearby residents homeless.
The TVA Gallatin Fossil Plant is located on the north bank of the Cumberland River. It provides electricity to thousands of households and businesses. It burns as much as 13,000 tons of coal in a single day.
The massive coal ash spill in East Tennessee sounded a warning to emergency officials in Sumner County.
On Wednesday, city and county leaders visited the plant in Gallatin and left with a good impression.
"There are a lot of safety measures that are taking place here at this facility and they're over and beyond even what the regulations say that they need to be," said state Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin.
The plant uses holding ponds to store coal ashes as did the facility in Kingston. But the Gallatin's pond is shallower.
"You're talking about a 75-foot embankment as opposed to a 25-foot, which would be the highest embankment we have here," said Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt.
The Gallatin plant is also spread out over much more land, which protects residents and the river.
"Even if it did give way there would be plenty of area for that to be contained in before it actually got to the lake," Holt said.
TVA officials said the oldest retention ponds in Gallatin will be safe for another 15 years or so. They're already looking at ways they'll store the coal ash when that time passes.