ABSTRACT: Coal combustion residuals (CCR), commonly known as coal ash, are created when coal is burned by power plants to produce electricity. Coal ash is one of the largest types of industrial waste generated in the United States, with several sites in the Carolinas having coal ash impoundments and landfills. Coal ash can contain constituents like mercury, selenium, and arsenic. Without proper management, these constituents can contaminate waterways, groundwater, drinking water, and air.
The EPA finalized national regulations to provide a comprehensive set of requirements for the safe disposal of CCR from coal-fired power plants. The federal CCR Rule establishes technical requirements for CCR landfills and surface impoundments, and it addresses risks from coal ash disposal, e.g., leaking of contaminants into groundwater, blowing of contaminants into air as dust, and the possible failure of coal ash surface impoundments. This rule also supports the responsible recycling of CCRs by distinguishing safe, beneficial use from disposal.
This presentation will provide an overview of the federal CCR rule and associated state regulations, and it outlines many of the CCR compliance activities we are conducting at current and former coal-fired power plants. Activities include comprehensive site assessments focused on groundwater flow characterization and the nature and extent of coal ash constituents occurring in groundwater, soil, surface water, and sediments. Based on the comprehensive site assessments, corrective action plans have been developed in coordination with the state regulatory agencies. Corrective action plans were based in part on human health and ecological risk assessments that determined whether the occurrence of specific coal ash constituents necessitates remedy.