EPA Declares New Coal Ash Handling Regulations

On December 22, 2008, a dike failure at a coal ash handling facility in Kingston, TN resulted in 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash flooding into two nearby rivers and covering over 300 acres. The breach damaged or destroyed dozens of homes in what was the largest coal ash spill in history.

Now, seven years later, the EPA is taking action to help ensure that coal spills like the Kingston incident are avoided in the future.

New Ash Handling Requirements

Last December, the EPA announced the first national regulations to oversee coal ash handling from coal-fired power plants. The regulations call for regular inspections of surface impoundments; restrictions on where landfills may be located; required monitoring of impoundments for groundwater contamination; and the closure of unlined disposal sites.

What it didn’t do was reclassify coal ash as hazardous waste. Instead, it classifies coal ash as solid waste under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which still allows it to be deposited in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills.

How This Impacts Ash Handling Processes

We do not anticipate that these new regulations will substantially impact current ash handling processes within existing facilities.

The key to this determination is the fact that the EPA did not change the current classification of coal combustion residues. Extra precautions – both internally and externally – could be necessitated if coal ash were determined to be a hazardous waste.

As it stands now, though, current facilities and processes should be adequate for handling combustion residues.

ProcessBarron specializes in helping the industry with turnkey ash handling systems, including inspections, engineering, manufacturing, and installation. Talk to us to learn more about how you can retrofit, upgrade, or maintain your ash handling system with the industry’s leader in the field.