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Environmental Enforcement: EPA Releases Utility Coal Ash Safety Plans

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday released action plans developed by 15 electric power plants describing measures they are taking to make their coal ash impoundments safer.

The coal ash plans are a response to on-site assessments of coal ash impoundments and ponds at electric utilities conducted by the agency since May 2009.

Coal ash received national attention in 2008 when an impoundment holding disposed ash waste generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority broke open, creating a massive spill in Kingston, Tenn., that covered millions of cubic yards of land and river.  The spill is regarded as one of the worst environmental disasters of its kind in history.

Following the incident, EPA began overseeing the cleanup, as well as investigating the structural integrity of impoundments at 60 coal ash storage sites that were considered to have a high risk of causing harm if the impoundment were to fail.

Last May, the agency issued final assessment reports on the structural integrity of these impoundments.  The reports assess the structural integrity of each facility, and provide recommendations and plans for the facilities to implement.

The reports released Friday address recommendations from assessments of 37 impoundments at 15 facilities. They are the latest additions to a stream of EPA action plans, covering 51 facilities and dozens of utilities.

In addition to the action plans, EPA released assessment reports on the structural integrity of an additional 69 coal ash impoundments at 20 facilities across the country. Of these units, 35 were given a “poor” rating, but none received an “unsatisfactory” rating, which is the agency’s lowest possible rating.

According to the EPA, the poor ratings were given because these units lacked some of the required engineering documentation required in the assessments–not because the units are unsafe.

The agency is now in the process of evaluating additional remaining coal ash impoundments and will continue to make its assessments and the facility action plans available to the public.

In addition to investigating the structural integrity of the impoundments, last May the EPA proposed rules to regulate the safe disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. The agency is now evaluating more than 400,000 public comments it received concerning the proposed rule.

The latest facilities to release action plans are:

Allegheny Energy – Pleasants Power Station – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

Allegheny Energy – R Paul Smith Station – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

American Electric Power – Big Sandy Power Plant – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

American Electric Power – Conesville Generating Station – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

American Electric Power – Muskingum Power Plant – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

Big Rivers – Coleman Generating Station – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

Dayton Power and Light – JM Stuart – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

Duke Energy Corporation – Miami Fort Generating Station – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

Duke Energy Corporation – W.C. Beckjord Generating Station – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

E.ON – Kentucky Utilities – E.W. Brown Plant – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

E.ON – Kentucky Utilities – Ghent Generating Station – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

E.ON – Louisville Gas & Electric Co. – Cane Run Station – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

First Energy Generation Corporation – Bruce Mansfield Power Plant – Little Blue Run Dam – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

Georgia Power – Plant Branch – Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

Ohio Valley Electric – Kyger Creek Power Station –Company Response/Action Plan (PDF)

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One thought on “Environmental Enforcement: EPA Releases Utility Coal Ash Safety Plans

  1. Is EPA revisiin the use of fly ash in concrete mixes as well as the safety of fly ash compounds? Encasing fly ash in concrete seems safe and sustainable to me but have I missed something from the EPA o the contrary? Thanks, John

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