Gallatin Fossil Plant, one of several coal-fired power plants in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s network, has been cited for ineffective leadership and safety concerns.
That comes from TVA’s Office of Inspector General, an independent arm that looked into the utility’s business operations and interviewed employees over a four-year period.
It found several strengths. Employees say there’s supervisor support and managers are good at setting goals. But inspectors also
found employees are concerned about low staffing, increased overtime and safety.
These issues, they say, revolve around the plant’s “dual-unit operation strategy.” This approach has one operator look over two coal boiler units, rather than one unit. It’s a cost-cutting measure used across TVA’s fleet of coal-fired plants.
The OIG says workers are concerned inadequate staffing has increased overtime, and the report shows overtime in the operations department has increased 31 percent between 2015 and 2017. Workers said this would increase potential danger if tired employees aren’t able to respond to boiler unit emergencies effectively.
Safety concerns were also raised about new pollution controls equipment, including scrubbers installed at the plant to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. Employees said they hadn’t received adequate training or guidance over operation of these scrubbers, which can expose them to ammonia.
TVA’s Gallatin site had three safety violations in 2017 around these same issues.
“The root cause of these events was related to communication, ownership, and being overwhelmed with workload and available resources, among other things,” Stefanie Hoglund, communications specialist for TVA’s Office of Inspector General, wrote in an email to WPLN.
Scott Fiedler, spokesperson for TVA, says the utility appreciates having independent inspectors look into its operations. In response, the utility is shifting employees’ responsibilities.
OIG’s look into TVA’s plants follows the utility’s
2017 Three-Year Enterprise Risk Profile. It said in ”recent years, TVA has faced internal and external economic pressures,” and it’s had to implement “cost-cutting measures.”