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Kentucky Months Away from EPA Coal Ash Compliance


Kentucky is still several months away from implementing the federal coal ash disposal regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency last year.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is currently taking public comment on their own plan to convert from wet to dry ash storage at its western Kentucky Shawnee Fossil Plant.  But Danny Anderson, from Kentucky’s Division of Solid Waste Management, says at least 18 other facilities across the state will need to be compliant as well.

“It is a self-implementing rule meaning there is no permit issued by the federal EPA but the facilities are required to post all information on a publicly accessible internet website, so that if citizens groups, or even the state could be a citizen in a suit for a non-compliance issue,” says Anderson.

The DWM is drafting legislation that mirrors the federal rule though it will be months before it is finalized. The potential for citizen lawsuits over contamination are pressuring companies to meet compliance. When the new regulations are passed Anderson says the DWM and Division of Water will both be responsible for implementing the new regulations.

Some companies can convert to natural gas and eliminate coal altogether, but many plants will not be able to meet the requirements and have to cap existing ash ponds or find a permitted landfill.

The TVA is proposing to build a facility to remove and re-circulate water used in coal ash management.

Read the Environmental Assessment draft

The ‘de-watering facility’ for bottom ash is part the electric utility’s effort to convert from wet to dry storage of ash and other coal combustion residual products. The facility would also include a re-circulation system to recycle the water used in moving ash back into the powerhouse. Dry ash would then be stored on site.

The recycling of production water is common according to Anderson. He says if facilities can reuse water “I think they should.”

The implementation of ash pond closures is running into the millions of dollars according to Anderson and active coal plants will either have to construct a new facility to dispose of the ash that they can’t beneficially reuse or they have to pay for ash to be disposed of by a permitted landfill.

Those participating in public comment opportunities are advised to question the method of transport utilized by companies that plan to transport ash.

“If you are an adjacent property owner I would want to make sure if they are removing ash and handling ash that they are doing it in a manner, you know ash can get airborne, so I would want to make sure they are doing it in a manner that doesn’t create a nuisance condition, like dusting,” says Anderson.

Reusable alternatives for the material like recycled wallboard and even fertilizer are options.

“Though most will seek out a permitted landfill,” says Anderson.

Each facility will have until October of this year to make their changes public.

Nicole Erwin is a Murray native and started working at WKMS during her time at Murray State University as a Psychology undergraduate student. Nicole left her job as a PTL dispatcher to join the newsroom after she was hired by former News Director Bryan Bartlett. Since, Nicole has completed a Masters in Sustainable Development from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia where she lived for 2 1/2 years.
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