Coal Ash Management

Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity. Depending on the type of coal, the amount of ash that remains is generally about 10 percent.

According to the American Coal Ash Association, more than 60 percent of coal ash was beneficially used in 2016, in products such as cement, concrete, wallboard, and roofing materials.
Coal ash that cannot be recycled is stored in basins or landfills. As the electric power industry transitions its generation fleet, some coal-based power plants are being retired. This means that coal ash disposal units near these power plants are no longer needed. Electric companies are beginning to close basins where coal ash is stored, in ways that put safety first, protect the environment, minimize impacts to the community, and manage costs for customers.
In April 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a national rule to regulate how coal ash is managed and stored. The rule provides two options for closing basins: managing coal ash in place (closed-in-place) or excavating and moving coal ash to another location (closed-by-removal). The EPA recognizes that both options are viable and provide environmental benefits, and the electric power industry is committed to meeting or exceeding all federal, state, and local regulations.
The federal rule also requires the monitoring of groundwater near ash basins and it lays out a prescriptive, phased process for monitoring groundwater, identifying and reporting any concerns, and then addressing any issues through corrective action. Electric companies will be posting information about groundwater protection efforts on their publicly available coal ash compliance websites in March 2018.

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