Monday, April 14, 2014

Coal ash deposits headed to N.C. dry landfill

Coal ash deposits headed to N.C. dry landfill

BY JOHN R. CRANE (434) 791-7987 | Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014 8:00 pm 
A spokesman for Duke Energy said the utility plans to take the coal ash accumulated near the Schoolfield Dam to a dry landfill in Roxboro, N.C.

Jeff Brooks told the Danville Register & Bee the Upper Piedmont landfill, owned by Republic Services, could possibly be the site where 2,500 tons of coal ash deposited on the upstream side of the dam would be taken.

The coal ash deposit covers about 26,000 square feet and is up to a foot thick. A Feb. 2 spill at a coal ash pond at Duke’s old Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C., coated about 70 miles of the bottom of the Dan River with the toxic mixture.

A report released last month by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League said storing coal ash in lined landfills poses a danger to the environment and public health. The league, in its report, recommended that the ash be kept in proven saltstone technology — cylindrical, concrete tanks that would isolate toxins from the soil, air and water.

During an informal public discussion on the Duke Energy dredging project, Myles Bartos, on-scene coordinator with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said he could not comment on the report because he has not read it.

Duke Energy has 33 coal ash ponds at 14 sites in North Carolina.

Several state and federal agencies held an open house Monday on Duke’s coal ash clean-up project at the Community Market in Danville.

When asked about the report, Brooks said, “We’ll evaluate each site individually to determine what the best options are.”

Duke plans to close the coal ash storage ponds at the Eden site permanently and has submitted plans to state and federal agencies.

Plans are also being made to close other coal ash ponds at other plants.

As for the coal ash removal from near the Schoolfield Dam, the process began about two weeks ago to prepare for the project at Abreu-Grogan Park, which will be closed for the clean-up. About 2,500 tons of coal ash will be vacuum-dredged from the site.

Once removed from the Dan River, the coal ash and sediment will be “de-watered” and the water filtrated to meet Clean Water Act standards before it’s returned to the Dan River.

The dry coal ash and sediment will be sent to a landfill for disposal.

The clean-up, performed by Phillips & Jordan Inc., is expected to be complete by the end of June and the park reopened in early July.

The owner of the Roxboro landfill, Republic Services, based in Phoenix, Ariz., is the second largest provider of solid waste collection, transfer, recycling and disposal services in the nation, according to the company’s website.