Power Plant Residue Ponds Need More Regulation, Whether Active or Inactive

by Duane Nichols on May 26, 2023

Little Blue Run Lake in Beaver County (PA) and Hancock County (WV)

Changes Proposed for Management of Legacy Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR)

From the Roux Group, Long Island, NY, May 25, 2023

The USEPA is proposing changes to the CCR regulations for inactive surface impoundments at inactive electric utilities, referred to as “legacy CCR surface impoundments.” The USEPA is proposing that within tailored compliance deadlines, owners and operators of legacy CCR surface impoundments comply with all existing requirements applicable to inactive CCR surface impoundments at active facilities, except for the location restrictions and liner design criteria. These are ponds which were exempted from the original rule in 2015.

This action is in response to the August 21, 2018 opinion by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, et al v. EPA), which voided the provision that exempted inactive impoundments at inactive facilities from the April 17, 2015 CCR rule. The notice for the proposed rule changes came out on May 18, 2023.

Legacy CCR surface impoundments are more likely to be unlined and unmonitored, making them more prone to leaks and structural problems than units at utilities that are currently in service. Legacy CCR surface impoundment and CCR management units are currently not regulated at the federal level and pose risks to groundwater.

Therefore, as part of this action, the USEPA is also proposing to establish groundwater monitoring, corrective action, closure, and post closure care requirements for all CCR management units (regardless of how or when that CCR was placed) at regulated CCR facilities. These additional requirements may result in substantial additional long-term costs for facilities with these types of impoundments, depending on how legacy CCR impoundments are currently managed at the state level.

The USEPA will collect public comments on this proposal until July 17, 2023. The USEPA will host an in-person hearing in Chicago, IL on June 28, 2023 and an online public hearing on July 12, 2023. Once the rule is finalized, it is expected to impact as many as 400 CCR units nationwide.

For more information on legacy CCR surface impoundments and understanding the proposed changes, use the form provided.

>> Roux Group, 209 Shafter Street, Islandia, NY 11749, United States


See Also: Little Blue Run Lake or Little Blue Run is the largest coal ash impound in the United States. FirstEnergy owns the site, located in Western Pennsylvania and parts of the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, and has disposed of billions of gallons of coal waste into the body of water. Several court cases have been brought against the company as a result of the damage caused by the company’s practices at the site. [From Wikipedia.]

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