Category: Coal ash

ISGS project will seek valuable elements, minerals from coal and coal waste

Read the full story from the Prairie Research Institute.

The Office of Fossil Energy within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected to award nearly $1.5 million to the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) for a project that will evaluate the availability of valuable rare earth elements and critical minerals in coal and coal waste streams in Illinois and nearby states. 

Reversing a dirty legacy: New rules aim to tighten regulations on forgotten byproduct of coal

Read the full story in the News-Gazette.

After years of work by environmental activists to push action on the issue, the Illinois Pollution Control Board has issued findings and recommendations related to the regulation of coal ash storage — an action advocates call “the first of its kind” in the state.

The Coal Plant Next Door

Read the full story from ProPublica.

Near America’s largest coal-fired power plant, toxins are showing up in drinking water and people have fallen ill. Thousands of pages of internal documents show how one giant energy company plans to avoid the cleanup costs.

Can Harvesting Rare Earth Elements Solve the Coal Ash Crisis?

Read the full story in Sierra Magazine.

Instead of mining and incinerating coal to generate electricity, the coal economy of the future could take the form of cleaning up and mining the industry’s historic waste.

Silent Killer

Read the full story in Q Magazine.

What is coal ash, and why is it so dangerous?

Coal’s Dirty Secret

Read the full story in Q Magazine.

Coal combustion residuals, commonly known as coal ash, are non-combustible components of coal — powdery substances accounting for roughly 10 percent of the weight of coal burned. This includes airborne particles caught in the smokestack filters (fly ash) and material left over in the furnace after coal is burned (bottom ash and boiler slag). Coal is an extremely impure fuel, and the toxins and carcinogens it contains are concentrated into coal ash when it is burned.

Coal ash poses an undeniable human health hazard. It contains particles up to 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair, so it is easily ingested or trapped in the lungs. Once in the body, its chemical cocktail can lead to cancer, heart damage, lung disease, kidney disease, and birth defects — with especially severe damage to children. The EPA found that living within a single mile of a coal ash disposal site causes a 1-in-50 lifetime risk of cancer.

This raises the crucial, life-and-death question: Where is coal ash stored?

Duke won’t foot its up to $9B coal ash cleanup bill, but shareholders could still absorb half, court rules

Read the full story in Utility Dive.

A Friday ruling from the North Carolina Supreme Court could have state regulators partially rethink who will pay for Duke Energy’s cleanup, estimated by the utility to cost $8-9 billion.

Duke and its shareholders will not have to bear the full brunt of the cleanup costs, the court ruled, upholding in part regulators’ initial ruling that was challenged by the state’s attorney general. But the court also found the commission erred in its rejection of North Carolina Public Staff’s “equitable sharing” proposal that would split the cost of cleanup between ratepayers and shareholders and extend the timeline for paying off the costs, while not allowing the utility to profit from the cleanup.

The court’s ruling does not mean the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has to implement public staff’s proposal, however, only that the regulatory body needs to consider “all potentially relevant facts,” including alleged environmental violations.

There’s still 100 million tons of coal ash to be excavated from Duke Energy ponds

Read the full story at North Carolina Policy Watch.

Millions of tons of coal ash have been excavated from unlined ponds at Duke Energy power plants, but an enormous amount has yet to be dug up, according to the inventory listed in the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s annual coal ash report to the General Assembly.

As of July 2020, there were more than 100 million tons of coal ash remaining in the unlined ponds at 11 of the utility’s 14 plants in North Carolina.

A combination of state law, a consent order and litigation by the Southern Environmental Law Center resulted in the ponds’ closure.

Georgia Power initiative to close ash ponds at power plant sites to lead to greater recycling

Read the full story in Construction & Demolition Recycling.

Today, most of the coal ash Georgia Power produces is recycled for various beneficial uses, such as Portland cement, concrete and cinder blocks.

Prairie Research Institute Coal Ash Response Team final report

Download the document.

Like other states throughout the nation, Illinois is working toward solutions that reduce negative impacts from surface impoundments of coal combustion residuals (CCR, often called coal ash), which are byproducts of burning coal to generate electricity. Coal ash contains elements present in coal, including arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, lithium, manganese, molybdenum, radium, selenium, sulfur, and thallium. These elements can persist and accumulate in the environment and be associated with negative health impacts.

The Executive Director of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) established the Coal Ash Response Team (CART) in part to assess coal ash related information that was available from the Illinois scientific surveys.

This report provides an overview of knowledge and information within PRI about coal ash issues. Efforts by the CART are intended to be of value to all stakeholders (e.g., the public, Illinois EPA, site operators, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, research institutions). This report includes information about potential impacts of coal ash impoundments, a review of federal and state laws and regulations, and an overview of how coal ash can be beneficially used.

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