Around 129 million tons of coal combustion waste (CCW) are produced at American power plants every year. CCW is the second-largest waste stream after municipal solid waste. CCW currently is subject to little federal regulation, but can be subject to varying levels of state regulation on a state-by-state basis.
Around the country, CCW from utilities are being disposed of in 41 states, in approximately 300 landfills for dry CCRs and approximately 580 surface impoundments or similar management units for “wet” or slurried CCW. EPA’s guesstimate was 300 surface impoundments based on a 2005 Department of Energy survey; however, based upon the responses to the information request letters, companies have identified additional CCW management units. That means, that EPA currently has no idea of the actual number of CCW waste management units in the U.S.
In 2000, EPA published a Regulatory Determination on certain CCW, finding that it does not warrant federal regulation as hazardous waste under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). However, EPA determined that national non-hazardous waste regulations under RCRA are needed for CCW disposed of in landfills and surface impoundments, or used as fill in surface or underground mines.
CCW consists of fly ash, bottom ash, coal slag, and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) residue. CCW contains a broad range of metals, for example, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, lead, and mercury, but the concentrations of these are generally low. However, if not properly managed, (for example, in lined units), CCW may cause a risk to human health and the environment. This is a fact proven by the environmental disaster at TVA’s Kingston Tennessee plant.
Based on EPA statistics, here are the top 25 utility generators of CCW in the US:
- Stanton Energy Center; Orlando, FL
- Sherburne County Generating Plant; Becker, MN
- Coal Creek Station; Underwood, ND
- Scherer Steam Electric Plant; Juliette, GA
- Detroit Edison Monroe Power Plant; Monroe, MI
- Gibson Generating Station; Owensville, IN
- Gorgas Steam Plant; Parrish, AL
- Cholla Power Plant; Joseph City, AZ
- Wansley Steam Plant; Roopville, GA
- Kentucky Utilities Ghent Station; Ghent, KY
- J.M Stuart Station; Manchester, OH
- Branch Steam Plant; Milledgeville, GA
- Barry Steam Plant; Bucks, AL
- Gaston Steam Plant; Wilsonville, AL
- Miller Steam Plant; Quinton, AL
- Lacygne Generating Station; Lacygne, KS
- Gallatin Fossil Plant; Gallatin, TN
- Boswell Energy Center; Cohasset, MN
- Leland Olds Station; Stanton, ND
- Widows Creek Fossil Plant; Stevenson, AL
- Paradise Fossil Plant; Drakesboro, KY
- Labadie Power Plant; Labadie, MO
- Kingston Fossil Plant; Harriman, TN
- Cardinal Plant; Brilliant, OH
- Bowen Steam Plant; Cartersville, GA