ROGERSVILLE — The boat ramp on Tennessee Valley Authority property near Rogersville will be opening soon, which is good news for fishermen, although boaters will no longer have two 350-foot high line-of-sight markers to help them find their way back to the parking lot.
On Saturday, the John Sevier Fossil Plant’s two smokestacks were brought down with the use of approximately 110 pounds of strategically placed explosives per stack.
The coal burning plant was constructed in 1956 and continued to produce electricity until the new gas plant next door went online in 2012.
TVA Public Relations Manager Jim Hopson told the Times-News Tuesday there was no safe public viewing area for the smokestack demolition, so the event wasn’t publicized in advance. Word did manage to trickle out, however, and Facebook was abuzz Saturday with amateur videos and photos of the two stacks going down.
“Those stacks are part of the original plant which was built in the 1950s, so they’ve been there for quite some time,” Hopson said. “For about the past year and a half we have been in the process of decommissioning the plant, demolishing the components of the old coal plant, and then returning the area to a brownfield development site. The stack demolition that occurred last Saturday was just another milestone in that. It was one of the last of the major components of the plant that were still there.
“We’ve done quite a bit of the decommissioning to date, and still have more to do, but the stacks were one of the last vestiges of the old plant that remained.”
Some of the smokestack debris will be used as backfill to level the void created by removal of the old power plant. Any leftover smokestack debris will be hauled off.
Brandenburg Industrial Service Company is the contractor that has been removing the old power plant and brought down the stacks Saturday.
The TVA boat ramp, which was heavily utilized by fishermen for decades, will be reopened at some point, although Hopson said the date hasn’t been established yet.
There was a substantial public outcry in opposition to the boat ramp and shoreline river access on the TVA property being closed when demolition of the old power plant began.
The TVA said the closure was needed for safety purposes, although it wasn’t announced until recently that the boat ramp will be reopened.
“As we get closer to the end of this project, we’ll be reopening that boat ramp that’s on the southwest side of the property,” Hopson said. “I haven’t heard a date yet, but it is going to be reopened. But one of the things that made that such a popular fishing area was the warm water discharged from the coal plant. Of course, that’s not there anymore.
“While you have the great fishing that’s always been a part of the river out there, you’re not going to have that warm water that seemed to be the magnet that drew the fish to that spot.”
When the demolition is completed, the site will be transformed into a 50-acre “brownfield” that can then be utilized for potential industrial or commercial development.
A determination on how that property will be used in the future has not yet been made, Hopson said.