For a related item, please see Closure of Coal Ash Ponds at Dominion and APCO Power Stations in Virginia, posted 4/25/16.
On April 17, 2015, the U.S. EPA published in the Federal Register the final version of its regulation (“final rule”) on disposal of coal combustion residuals (also called “coal ash”) from electric utilities, under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The U.S. EPA administrator had signed the final rule on December 19, 2014. According to the EPA’s Web site on the rule, the rule aims to address three areas of risk from coal ash disposal: leaking of contaminants into groundwater, blowing of contaminants into the air as dust, and the catastrophic failure of coal ash surface ponds. EPA information on the coal-ash regulation, which was published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2015, is available online at http://www2.epa.gov/coalash/coal-ash-rule.
Also on April 17, Dominion Virginia Power announced that it will comply with the new regulation by closing—within three years—coal-ash ponds at four Virginia electric-power stations: Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna County, Chesapeake Energy Center in the City of Chesapeake, Chesterfield Power Station in Chesterfield County, and Possum Point Power Station in Prince William County. The process Dominion will follow includes—at minimum—draining the ponds, covering them with an impermeable liner, then covering the liner with 24 inches of soil planted with grass seed or sod. Final details of the closure process—including whether or not any of the ash will be removed—are to be determined by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
A similar process will take place in North Carolina, where Duke Energy’s Dan River Combined Cycle facility at Eden was the site of a coal-ash storage pond spill in February 2014 that contaminated the Dan River in North Carolina and Virginia. As of late August 2016, Duke Energy was applying to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources for permits from North Carolina for discharge into the Dan River of wastewater from the Eden storage areas, which are being removed.
“Final Rule: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities,” U.S. EPA, online at http://www2.epa.gov/coalash/coal-ash-rule, accessed 4/22/15.
Dominion Virginia Power to close coal ash ponds in state, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/17/15.
100 trains of coal ash removed from site, Danville Register & Bee, 8/31/16.
Earlier news accounts on the regulations, published at the time the draft rules were released in December 2014:
Coal-ash dumps to face restrictions six years after billion-gallon spill in Tennessee, Washington Post, 12/19/14.
EPA sets national coal ash standards, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/20/14.
Watchdog: New EPA rules fall short of protecting James River, Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, 1/7/15.