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SPECIAL REPORT

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S PECIAL R E P O R T Four-Page A17 BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL

A17

S PECIAL R E P O R T Four-Page A17 BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL
BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL Dave Sehorn, left, of Pines, Ind., reacted as he
BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL
Dave Sehorn, left, of Pines, Ind., reacted as he was told by Kenneth Theisen of the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that drinking-water wells in the area are
polluted. Theisen believes heavy metals in coal ash buried in a landfill and used as
construction fill are to blame. Resident Jan Nona said communities need to be
vigilant about where coal combustion waste goes. ‘‘If someone thinks ash can’t
cause problems, I’ve got a bridge to sell them in San Francisco.’’

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002

them in San Francisco.’’ THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 Coal ash: A big unknown BY STEWART BOWMAN,

Coal ash: A big unknown

BY STEWART BOWMAN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Lodestar Energy, a mining company, is putting coal ash in Stratton Branch, a hollow near Ivel, Ky. The landfill begins on the left and is being extended into the valley. The company used a protective liner for the first stage of dumping but has placed ash directly on the ground in the second stage, raising concerns about groundwater contamination.

Some fear toxic threat in power plant waste

By JAMES BRUGGERS

jbruggers@courier-journal.com The Courier-Journal

The nat i on’ s coal - f i r ed power pl ant s ar e pr oduci ng mount ai ns of ash — mor e t han 100 mi l l i on t ons annual l y, f uel i ng a debat e over the environmental threat it poses. A bypr oduct of bur ned coal , coal ash i s somet i mes conver t ed f or use i n pr oduct s such as wal l boar d and cement , but 70 per - cent ends up in landfills, settling ponds and old strip mines. Across the country, just one year’s worth of ash, pl aced on a footbal l fi el d, woul d ex- tend 11.1 miles high. And whi l e t he ener gy i ndust r y has l ong argued that the material is benign, with coal undergoing a national resurgence, environ- mental leaders are questioning anew the ex- tent to whi ch coal ash and the traces of po- t ent i al l y t oxi c heavy met al s cont ai ned i n i t threaten groundwater supplies, streams, riv- ers, lakes and aquatic life. ‘ ‘ The regul at i on of coal ash i s haphazard at best,’’ said Jeffrey Stant, an Indiana con- sul t ant t o t he Bost on- based Cl ean Ai r Task Force — a nonprofit advocacy group — and a leading national critic of how power com- panies manage their ash. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agen- cy ‘ ‘ has been asl eep at t he swi t ch. The f act is, (pollution from ash) is getting to people,

and i t ’ s been causi ng gr eat i mpact s t o aquatic systems,’’ Stant said. The i ssue of r egul at i on i s dr awi ng i n- creasing attention as power companies pro- pose a new gener at i on of coal - f i r ed pl ant s, ur ged on by t he Bush admi ni st r at i on’ s na- t i onal energy st rat egy. There are proposal s f or ei ght new coal pl ant s i n Kent ucky and two in Indiana. With those plants, the two states are brac- ing for more ash — 6 million additional tons yearly in Kentucky alone, or about as much as Indiana produces now. At the same time, regulations that govern how power compani es manage combust i on waste are inconsistent — and in some cases are all but non existent. Thi r t y f ami l i es i n t he Nor t her n I ndi ana t own of Pi nes under st and what ’ s at st ake. An EPA emer gency r esponse t eam, l ed by on- si t e coor di nat or Kennet h Thei sen, t ol d t hem t hi s summer t hat t hei r pr i vat e dr i nk- i ng- wat er wel l s are rui ned — 15 years af t er government scientists first suggested that a nearby ash l andfi l l mi ght be spreadi ng pol - lution. Theisen said he believes a toxic plume of heavy met al s f rom power pl ant ash, buri ed in the landfill and scattered around town as const r uct i on f i l l , i s t he l i kel y cul pr i t . EPA

See ASH Page 23, col. 1, this section

kel y cul pr i t . EPA See ASH Page 23, col. 1, this section
kel y cul pr i t . EPA See ASH Page 23, col. 1, this section
kel y cul pr i t . EPA See ASH Page 23, col. 1, this section
kel y cul pr i t . EPA See ASH Page 23, col. 1, this section
kel y cul pr i t . EPA See ASH Page 23, col. 1, this section
kel y cul pr i t . EPA See ASH Page 23, col. 1, this section

LANDFILL

E. Kentucky company able to dump ash beyond protective liner

By JAMES BRUGGERS

jbruggers@courier-journal.com The Courier-Journal

IVEL, Ky. — The order was simple enough. An Eastern Kentucky mining company con- structing an ash landfill in 1993 in a mountain hollow near Ivel in Floyd County was required by the Kentucky Natural Resources and Envi- ronmental Protection Cabinet to install a syn- thetic liner. The r esul t of a l egal chal l enge f r om l ocal r esi dent s, t he l i ner was i nt ended t o pr event contaminants in the ash from getting into the Levi sa For k of t he Bi g Sandy Ri ver , whi ch suppl i es dri nki ng wat er t o Pi kevi l l e i n nei gh- boring Pike County. Cost ai n Coal , now oper at i ng as Lodest ar Energy, i nstal l ed the l i ner i n Stratton Branch hol l ow and pi l ed ash on i t dur i ng t he f i r st stage of its dumping. But when it ran out of room and moved into the second stage, the company pl aced ash di - rectly on bare ground farther up the hollow. St at e r egul at or s di d not hi ng t o st op t he dumpi ng of ash beyond t he l i ner because t he or i gi nal or der onl y cover ed t he f i r st st age, sai d Geor ge F. Gi l ber t , a hi gh- r anki ng envi - ronmental engineer in the cabinet. That order, t hrough t he cabi net ’ s Of f i ce of Administrative Hearings, required that the lin- er ext end onl y so f ar up t he hol l ow, Gi l ber t said. It was signed by representatives of local r esi dent s, t he cabi net and t he company, al - though never written into the company’s sepa- rate waste management permit. ‘ ‘ I assumed al l par t i es knew t hat onl y t he

bot t om par t woul d get a l i ner , ’ ’ Gi l ber t sai d, addi ng t hat a l i ner hi gher up wasn’ t needed. ‘ ‘ The hi gher up you get , you have mor e soi l bet ween t he bot t om of t he ash and t he t op of the groundwater.’’ Any pol l ut ant s f r om t he ash ‘ ‘ i n t heor y’ ’ would be filtered by the dirt before they got to the groundwater, he said. ‘‘The state’s position is absurd,’’ countered l awyer Tom Fi t zGer al d, di r ect or of t he envi - r onment al gr oup Kent ucky Resour ces Coun- cil, who, along with attorney Michael deBour- bon of Pikeville, helped negotiate the order. The st at e shoul d have f or ced t he company to extend the liner, FitzGerald said. ‘ ‘ Our assumpt i on was t hat l i ner woul d be ext ended i f t he f aci l i t y was expanded, ’ ’ Fi t z- Gerald said. At t he ver y l east , st at e of f i ci al s coul d have i nformed the Kentucky Resources Counci l or deBourbon of t he si t uat i on so l ocal resi dent s could have had a chance to request a liner for the dump’s second phase, FitzGerald said. Records on file in Frankfort show that state of f i ci al s ar e comi ng ar ound t o Fi t zGer al d’ s posi t i on t hat a l i ner i s needed f or t he ent i r e landfill. I n Jul y 2001, Lodest ar appl i ed f or a per mi t t o ext end t he l i f e of t he ash l andf i l l t o 40 years from about 12 years. It intends to dump a total of 14.7 million cubic yards of ash on 71 acres, piled 600 feet high at its deepest point. The state intends to require the company to i nst al l a l i ner under al l ash t hat wi l l be dumped af t er t he per mi t i s appr oved, sai d Mark York, spokesman for the cabinet. I n t he past decade, t her e’ s been a gr owi ng

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BY STEVE DURBIN, THE C-J

awar eness t hat ash l andf i l l s can cause groundwater pollution problems, Gilbert said, adding that he’ s not aware of such a problem at the Ivel fill. The pl an wi l l l eave some ash i n di rect con- t act wi t h t he ground. The st at e doesn’ t know how much ash r est s on bar e ear t h, Gi l ber t sai d, because t he company’ s per mi t di d not require such accounting. Gr oundwat er moni t or s ar ound t he l andf i l l wi l l be abl e t o det ect pol l ut i on i f i t occur s, York said. No decision will be made on Lodestar’s pro- posed l andf i l l expansi on unt i l t he Pi kevi l l e- based company, whi ch i s oper at i ng under

Pi kevi l l e- based company, whi ch i s oper at i ng under
Pi kevi l l e- based company, whi ch i s oper at i ng under

BY STEWART BOWMAN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Bill Justice, a Lodestar Energy engineer, stood atop coal ash at a landfill in Ivel, Ky., that the company plans to expand. ‘‘We’ve been here eight years, and no problems,’’ he said.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, has found a replacement for $3.4 million in environmental per f or mance bonds t hat t he st at e consi der ed at risk of default, York said. Lodest ar i s wor ki ng t o secur e t he new bonds as part of its reorganization, said Mike Francisco, a Lodestar vice president. The landfill expansion will be engineered to mi ni mi ze any pot ent i al ef f ect f r om t he ash

that’s on bare ground, said Bill Justice, an en gineer with Lodestar. But Justice said that neither the original lin er nor the planned new one, to be constructed at a cost of $20 mi l l i on, ar e needed because the ash is environmentally benign. ‘‘We’ve been here eight years, and no prob l ems, ’ ’ he sai d. ‘ ‘ I don’ t expect t hat t o change.’’

RECYCLING

RECYCLING THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A18 Coal ash turns up in growing range of products

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A18

RECYCLING THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A18 Coal ash turns up in growing range of products

Coal ash turns up in growing range of products

By JAMES BRUGGERS

jbruggers@courier-journal.com The Courier-Journal

At t wo new f act or i es i n Nor t her n Kent ucky, wor ker s t ur n what was once wast e f r om ai r pol l ut i on scr ub- ber s i nt o wal l boar d f or home and business construction. Laf ar ge Gypsum and BBP Cel ot ex have added r oughl y 500 j obs whi l e keeping more than 1.3 million tons of coal combustion waste out of landfills and settling ponds each year. The wal l boar d pl ant s — one i n Silver Grove and the other in Carroll- t on — i l l ust r at e t he t r end i n t he el ec- tric generating industry: finding more ways t o put ash and scr ubber sl udge to beneficial uses. ‘‘Coal can be part of sustainable de- vel opment i n t hi s count r y, ’ ’ sai d James C. Hower , a sci ent i st at t he Uni ver si t y of Kent ucky’ s Cent er f or Appl i ed Ener gy Resear ch and edi t or in chief of the International Journal of Coal Geology. ‘‘There is so much that can be done with these byproducts.’’ Nat i onal l y, 30 per cent of r oughl y 100 mi l l i on t ons of coal combust i on wast e annual l y i s put t o so- cal l ed ‘ ‘ benef i ci al r euse’ ’ — pr act i ces t hat commonl y car r y br oad exempt i ons from environmental regulations. The amount of ash r eused i s i n- cr easi ng by about 3 per cent a year , sai d Davi d C. Goss, pr esi dent of t he American Coal Ash Association. I ndi ana r euses about 29 per cent of the ash it generates; Kentucky, 13 per- cent. Pr oduct s i ncl ude i nsul at i ng gl ass beads i ncor por at ed i nt o heat shi el ds of the space shuttles, an ingredient in cement , and a subst i t ut e f or di r t and gravel fill at construction sites. Whi l e some r euse pr act i ces can be controversial — such as unscrutinized use of ash as const r uct i on f i l l — t her e’ s br oad suppor t f or met hods that ensure the environment won’t be harmed. ‘‘There are, in fact, legitimate bene- ficial uses of coal ash,’’ said longtime coal industry watchdog Tom FitzGer- al d, di r ect or of t he Kent ucky Re- sour ces Counci l , an envi r onment al gr oup. ‘ ‘ The quest i on i s al ways, ‘ Ar e you managi ng t he mat er i al i n a way that pollutants of concern will not mi- grate into the environment?’ ’’ He cited one especially good exam- ple of the use of fly ash: as an ingredi- ent i n Portl and cement, a practi ce re- sear ched at t he UK ener gy r esear ch cent er . The pr act i ce i s empl oyed by Jef f er son Count y’ s Cosmos Cement Co., which uses ash from LG&E Ener- gy’s nearby Mill Creek generating sta- tion. The benef i t s coul d be si gni f i cant , sai d Tom Robl , associ at e di r ect or of t he UK ener gy r esear ch cent er . I n Kent ucky, f or exampl e, ash subst i - t ut es f or about 18 per cent of cement , the binding agent in concrete. Whi l e coal - f i r ed power pl ant s ar e maj or sour ces of t he gr eenhouse gas car bon di oxi de, bl amed i n par t f or global warming, their ash can be used t o r educe gr eenhouse gas emi ssi ons released from cement kilns, Robl said. The ki l ns r el ease a t on of car bon dioxide for every ton of cement that’s made. ‘ ‘ I f we t ook al l t he concr et e i n t he whol e worl d, ’ ’ Robl sai d, ‘ ‘ and we i n- creased the substitution rate of fly ash f or Por t l and cement t o a l evel of 50 percent, we would reduce the amount of gr eenhouse gases by 750 mi l l i on t ons, whi ch woul d r epr esent 25 per - cent of t he emi ssi ons of al l aut os i n the world.’’ The wal l boar d pl ant s benef i t f r om changes t hat LG&E Ener gy and Ci n- er gy have made t o some smokest ack scr ubber s t hat use gr ound- up l i me- st one t o r emove sul f ur di oxi de — a component of acid rain. Whi l e ol der scr ubber s pr oduce an unusabl e wast e pr oduct of cal ci um sulfite and calcium sulfate, the newer pollution control devices produce only calcium sulfate. With refining at their power plants, the companies can turn calcium sulfate into a high-grade syn- thetic gypsum. Four of LG&E Ener gy’ s Kent ucky plants are producing gypsum — some sent t o Carrol l t on, and some shi pped by barge to New Orleans.

o Carrol l t on, and some shi pped by barge to New Orleans. PHOTOS BY

PHOTOS BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Tom Robl, associate director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research, discussed the properties of coal ash, which he says has beneficial uses. ‘‘If we took all the concrete in the whole world,’’ Robl said, ‘‘and we increased the substitution rate of fly ash for Portland cement to a level of 50 percent, we would reduce the amount of greenhouse gases by 750 million tons.’’

‘ ‘ We ar e t he f eedst ock f or t hem, ’ ’

sai d Caryl Pfei ffer, envi ronmental af-

fairs director for LG&E. ‘‘It means the avoidance of (gypsum) mining.’’ The Wm. H. Zi mmer Gener at i ng

St at i on, l ocat ed i n Ohi o near Ci nci n-

nat i and owned by Ci ner gy and t wo

ot her compani es, suppl i es t he Si l ver Grove wallboard manufacturing facili-

ty in Campbell County.

At LG&E’ s Mi l l Cr eek gener at i ng stati on i n Jefferson County, ash from t he bot t om of t he pl ant ’ s boi l er s i s screened, sorted and tested for pol l u- tion potential. The Metropolitan Sew- er Di st r i ct t hen uses i t under and around new sewer lines. ‘ ‘ I t ’ s not j ust Uncl e Phi l dr i vi ng up i n a t r uck and l oadi ng t hi s st uf f i n, ’ ’

Robl said. At LG&E-owned Western Kentucky Ener gy’ s Col eman Power St at i on i n Hawesville, UK is testing a technology t o t ur n ash i n t he pl ant ’ s r api dl y f i l l - i ng set t l i ng ponds back i nt o ener gy and other products. Pond ash is excavated. The smallest parti cl es of carbon are separated and r ebur ned wi t h coal . Lar ger par t i cl es can be used f or ot her pur poses, i n- cl udi ng as an absor bent mat er i al f or environmental cleanups. The t echnol ogy hol ds promi se t hat settling ponds and landfills across the count r y, whi ch t oget her hol d mor e t han 1. 5 bi l l i on t ons of coal pl ant wast e, coul d someday be t apped f or useful products, Robl said. UK sci ent i st s have al so hel ped t o put t he ci nder back i n ci nder bl ocks. Air pollution controls in the 1970s and 1980s l eft too much carbon i n bottom ash for the material to be used in cin- der bl ocks. So t he i ndust r y changed

to blocks of concrete.

I n r ecent year s, t he UK cent er has worked wi th Chara Envi ronmental of

Madi sonvi l l e t o devel op ways t o r e- move the carbon economically. Chara now market s a l i ne of product s made from coal combustion wastes. Mor e ash i sn’ t r eused f or a var i et y

of

reasons. Ai r pol l ut i on r egul at i ons have

pr

ompt ed changes i n how coal i s

bur ned, r esul t i ng i n mor e i mpur i t i es i n ash t hat make t he mat er i al har der

to convert into commercial products.

And some compani es ar e con- cerned about t he pot ent i al l i abi l i t y of t ur ni ng wast e i nt o commer ci al pr oj -

ect s, sai d Ji m Roewer , execut i ve di -

r ect or of t he Ut i l i t y Sol i d Wast e Ac- t i vi t i es Group, a consort i um of ut i l i t y

operating companies.

Further, it has been too easy to dis- pose of ash i n l andf i l l s, ponds or ol d

mi nes, sai d Jef f r ey St ant , an I ndi ana

consul tant to the Boston-based Cl ean

WHERE COAL-FIRED POWER PLANT ASH GOES

YEAR 2000

K E N T U C K Y T O T A L S

Struc. fill

Blasting grit/

roof granules 3.2% 4.8% Other 1.2% 0.4% 7.3%7.3%7.3% Pond 32.1% Landfill 51% U . S
roof granules
3.2%
4.8%
Other
1.2%
0.4%
7.3%7.3%7.3%
Pond
32.1%
Landfill
51%
U . S . T O T A L S
Ash
(road base)
2%
Anti-skid material
1%
Waste
Other
1.9%
4.9%
Pond
4.2%4.2%4.2%
21.6%

Cement

GypsumGypsumGypsum

4.9% Pond 4.2%4.2%4.2% 21.6% Cement Gypsum Gypsum Gypsum Blasting grit/ roof granules 2.1% stabilization Struc.

Blasting grit/

roof granules

2.1%

stabilization

Struc.Struc.Struc. fillfillfill

CementCementCement 10.5%10.5%10.5% GypsumGypsumGypsum 3.1%3.1%3.1% Landfill 48.7% SOURCE: KENTUCKY NATURAL RESOURCE
CementCementCement
10.5%10.5%10.5%
GypsumGypsumGypsum
3.1%3.1%3.1%
Landfill
48.7%
SOURCE: KENTUCKY NATURAL RESOURCE AND
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION CABINET
THE COURIER-JOURNAL
U.S. ASH
PRODUCTION, 2000*
State
Tons
1.
Texas
10.1
2.
Ohio
9.2
3.
Kentucky
7.4
Caryl Pfeiffer, environmental affairs director for
LG&E Energy, said four LG&E power plants in
Kentucky use coal ash to produce gypsum.
4.
Pennsylvania
6.5
5.
Indiana
5.9
6.
West Virginia
5.7
7.
Oklahoma
4.3
Air Task Force — a nonprofit advoca-
cy group — and a critic of how power
companies manage their ash.
‘‘There is simply no financial incen-
tive to recycle.’’
Kent ucky l ags behi nd ot her st at es
i n put t i ng coal combust i on wast e t o
other uses, in part because many of
i t s power pl ant s ar e r emot e, r ai s-
i ng t r anspor t at i on cost s of ash,
experts said.
‘ ‘ Somet i mes i t ’ s mor e ef f i -
ci ent t o l andf i l l or di spose
of t he mat er i al , ’ ’ ac-
knowl edged Goss, of
t he coal ash associ -
ation.
8.
New Mexico
3.9
9.
North Carolina
3.9
10. Florida
3.5
*Coal-fired plants operated by regulated
utilities only. Other coal ash is produced
by merchant plants and industrial boilers.
SOURCE: U.S. DEPT. OF ENERGY
STATS, ANALYZED BY AMERICAN COAL
ASH ASSOCIATION
THE COURIER-JOURNAL
Jack Groppo of UK’s Center for
Applied Energy Research held a
construction block made with coal
cinders. The center worked on finding
economical methods to remove carbon
from the ash so that it could be used
in the blocks.
from the ash so that it could be used in the blocks. A ROUND-TRIP DEAL Coal
from the ash so that it could be used in the blocks. A ROUND-TRIP DEAL Coal
from the ash so that it could be used in the blocks. A ROUND-TRIP DEAL Coal
from the ash so that it could be used in the blocks. A ROUND-TRIP DEAL Coal
from the ash so that it could be used in the blocks. A ROUND-TRIP DEAL Coal
from the ash so that it could be used in the blocks. A ROUND-TRIP DEAL Coal

A ROUND-TRIP DEAL

Coal shipped to Florida power plants; waste ash returned to Kentucky

By JAMES BRUGGERS

jbruggers@courier-journal.com The Courier-Journal

When Fl or i da r esi dent s a decade ago strongly objected to the prospect of two coal-fired power plants depos- i t i ng wast e ash l ocal l y, publ i c of f i - cials listened. They r equi r ed t hat t he ash be shipped back to the Kentucky mining company produci ng the coal as a re- qui r ement of t he power pl ant con- struction permits. Lodestar Energy, of Pi kevi l l e, Ky. , agr eed t o t ake t he wast e ash back and now puts it in a mountain hollow it owns. Thi s ar r angement wi t h Fl or i da power provider PG&E National Ener- gy Group is unique in Kentucky and, accor di ng t o some, pot ent i al l y t r ou- bling.

Coal f i el d r esi dent s t hat bear t he envi r onment al br unt of mi ni ng ar e t aki ng a second hi t from ash di spos-

al , sai d Jer r y Har dt , spokesman f or

Kent ucki ans For The Common- wealth, an environmental group. ‘ ‘ I f i t ( ash) i s such a beni gn sub-

st ance, as we ar e l ed t o bel i eve, ’ ’

Har dt sai d, ‘ ‘ why don’ t t hey keep i t

in Florida and use it there?’’

PG&E has been assur ed t hat t he ash i s bei ng di sposed of i n an envi -

r onment al l y r esponsi bl e way, sai d

Li sa Fr ankl i n, spokeswoman f or t he

company. The ar r angement had not hi ng t o do wi t h any di f f er ences i n envi r on- ment al l aws bet ween t he st at es, she sai d. Fl or i da envi r onment al i st s say,

in fact, that their state’s ash-disposal

r egul at i ons ar e among t he most l ax

in the country. ‘ ‘ I t was a mat t er of t he count i es

not wanting the coal ash. They want- ed it sent back to the mine to be used for reclamation,’’ Franklin said.

As i t t ur ns out , t he mi ni ng com- pany doesn’t use the ash for reclama- tion. Here’s what happens:

Coal mi ned f r om Lodest ar ’ s Ken- t ucky st r i p mi nes i s shi pped by r ai l

t o a power pl ant at I ndi ant own i n sout h Fl or i da. Rai l car s r et ur ni ng t o Kent ucky f or mor e coal br i ng back the ash, where it has been filling up the

St r at t on Br anch hol l ow f or t he past eight years. Until last year, before Lodestar ob- t ai ned bankr upt cy pr ot ect i on and cancel ed one of i t s cont r act s, t he company al so sent coal t o a PG&E

pl ant i n Jacksonvi l l e, Fl a. , and ac- cepted its ash.

The coal company of f er ed t o ac- cept the ash as a way to secure long-

t er m cont r act s wi t h t he power pr o- vider, said Bill Justice, a Lodestar en- gi neer . He sai d i t gave t he company a marketing edge over other sources of coal and has hel ped t he company employ 200 people in the region. When resi dent s near I vel , Ky. , op- posed t he l andf i l l i n t he earl y 1990s, they weren’t upset that the ash came f r om out of st at e, sai d at t or ney Mi - chael deBour bon of Pi kevi l l e, who r epr esent ed t hem. They wer e wor - r i ed about t hei r wat er suppl y i n t he Levi sa For k of t he Bi g Sandy Ri ver , he said. The l andf i l l has not har med t he envi ronment , and t he coal j obs have been good f or t he r egi on, sai d Mi ke Francisco, vice president of Lodestar. Too of t en t he coal i ndust r y i s wr ongl y por t r ayed negat i vel y, he said.

ndust r y i s wr ongl y por t r ayed negat i vel y,
ndust r y i s wr ongl y por t r ayed negat i vel y,

BY STEWART BOWMAN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Coal from Lodestar Energy’s Ivel, Ky., site is being shipped to a power plant in Florida. The waste ash is then sent back to Kentucky.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A23 BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL ‘‘Agencies that are

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A23

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A23 BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL ‘‘Agencies that are supposed
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A23 BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL ‘‘Agencies that are supposed

BY DURELL HALL JR., THE COURIER-JOURNAL

‘‘Agencies that are supposed to protect the public interest didn’t,’’ said Phyllis DaMota, whose well water in Pines, Ind., was ruled unsafe to drink. Her home is within sight of a landfill where tests have found high levels of boron, which can be toxic. The Environmental Protection Agency is supplying her with bottled water.

Ash from coal-fired plants under increasing scrutiny

✖✖✖ COAL ✖✖✖ COMBUSTION ASH PONDS WASTE ✖✖✖ ASH LANDFILLS DISPOSAL ASH MINE-FILLS Coal-fired
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COAL
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COMBUSTION
ASH PONDS
WASTE
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ASH LANDFILLS
DISPOSAL
ASH MINE-FILLS
Coal-fired power
plants dispose of ash
and other
combustion wastes in
settling ponds and
landfills, and
sometimes by
sending it to old
strip mines.
III
NNN
DDD
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Source: Indiana Department of
Environmental Management and
Kentucky Natural Resources and
Environmental Protection Cabinet
MAP BY STEVE DURBIN,
THE COURIER-JOURNAL
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RiverRiverRiver Ohio River White River Wabash River Continued from Page A17 t est s at some

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t est s at some homes near t he l andf i l l have r eveal ed bor on l evel s 13 t i mes higher than the agency uses to decide whether federal money can be tapped for remediation. Hi gh doses of bor on can damage the stomach, liver, kidneys and brain, according to the U.S. Agency for Tox-

ic Substances and Disease Registry.

When wat er was t est ed f r om a ditch that flows next to the landfill, it

showed consi derabl y hi gher l evel s of pollutants than water tested upstream from the landfill, he said. ‘ ‘ A coi nci dence? I don’ t t hi nk so, ’ ’ Theisen said. The company t hat owns t he l and- f i l l , Br own I nc. of Mi chi gan Ci t y, de- cl i ned t o comment f or t hi s st or y. Re- gina D. Biddings, a spokeswoman for the NIPSCO power plant that sent ash t o t he l andf i l l , sai d her company was cooperating with the EPA team. ‘‘If the landfill is contributing to the communi t y’ s gr oundwat er pr obl em, the company will work with the land- fill operator, the community and state and f eder al agenci es t o f i nd t he best resolution,’’ Biddings said. The st at e of I ndi ana ear l i er t hi s year pr oposed pl aci ng cont ami nat ed sect i ons of t he t own on t he nat i on’ s Superfund list of most toxic places. ‘ ‘ I ’ m upset about t he whol e si t ua- t i on, ’ ’ sai d t eacher Phyl l i s DaMot a, who can easi l y see t he pr i vat el y owned l andf i l l f r om her f r ont yar d and whose well water was the first to

be deemed unsafe to drink. ‘‘Agencies

t hat are supposed t o prot ect t he pub-

lic interest didn’t.’’

Act i vi st Jan Nona, a r et i r ed st eel

mi l l secr et ar y, sai d t he l esson of her

t own of 790 peopl e i s t hat communi -

t i es need t o be vi gi l ant about wher e coal combust i on wast e goes and how it’s monitored. ‘ ‘ If someone thinks ash can’ t cause

pr obl ems, I ’ ve got a br i dge t o sel l

them in San Francisco.’’ The EPA t wo year s ago st opped

shor t of decl ar i ng coal ash a hazar d- ous wast e. The agency i s devel opi ng disposal standards that are scheduled

to be released in early 2004.

The regul ators’ task won’ t be easy, though. Despite the situation in Pines, t her e r emai ns a cont ent i ous debat e over the threat posed by coal ash. Industry leaders describe coal com- busti on waste as envi ronmental l y be- nign or nearly so. ‘ ‘ Ther e ar e some ver y l egi t i mat e concer ns i n cer t ai n si t uat i ons, but generally there should not be concern f or heavy met al s ( washi ng) out of

coal ash, ’ ’ sai d Bi l l Cayl or , execut i ve director of the Kentucky Coal Associ- ation. ‘‘This public fear of heavy met- als is blown out of proportion.’’ However , t he cr i t i cs ar e movi ng at l east some i n gover nment t o suggest that coal ash needs to be treated with more caution. ‘ ‘ Even t hough cer t ai n r egul at i ons

ar e on t he books, ar e t hey pr ot ec-

tive?’’ asked Bob Logan, commission- er of t he Kent ucky Depar t ment f or Envi r onment al Pr ot ect i on. ‘ ‘ We have always had a question. Is this material what it’s supposed to be?’’

W h e re ’s th e h a rm ?

Typi cal l y, power pl ant s put t hei r ash i n l andf i l l s or set t l i ng ponds. I n- dustry officials say this is designed to keep pol l ut i on f r om get t i ng i nt o t he environment. At Ci ner gy’ s Gal l agher pl ant i n

New Al bany, I nd. , f or exampl e, com- pany envi r onment al manager s poi nt vi si t or s t o an egr et t hat i s f i shi ng i n one of t wo ash ponds, and say t he ponds, which drain into the Ohio Riv-

er after ash has settled to the bottom,

are coexisting well with nature.

‘ ‘ We’ r e moni t or i ng so many of t hese f aci l i t i es, and t hey’ r e showi ng no i mpact , ’ ’ sai d R. James Mei er s, coal combustion waste expert for Cin- ergy Power Generation Services. Some scientists back the industry’s assertions. ‘ ‘ You get t he i mpr essi on we ar e

dr owni ng i n t he st uf f , ’ ’ sai d Tom

LAKE M I C H I G A N MICHIGAN 94 ChicagoChicago Chicago 80 90
LAKE
M I C H I G A N
MICHIGAN
94
ChicagoChicago
Chicago
80
90
TOWNTOWN OFOF PINESPINES
TOWN OF PINES
GaryGary
Gary
AREA
65
SHOWN
II NN DD II AA NN AA
I N D I A N A
Indianapolis
Louisville
I L L I N O I S

BY STEVE DURBIN, THE C-J

Robl, associate director of the Univer- si ty of Kentucky’ s Center for Appl i ed Energy Research, which works close- l y wi t h i ndust r y. ‘ ‘ No, we ar e not , and i s t he mat er i al hazar dous? Not really.’’ However , envi r onment al i st s and other sci enti sts — typi cal l y bi ol ogi sts or ecol ogi st s — poi nt t o a var i et y of si t es wher e ash has been bl amed f or pol l ut i ng wat er and i n some cases harming aquatic life. Wi t h t wo ot her r esear cher s, Wi l - l i am Hopki ns of t he Uni ver si t y of Geor gi a’ s Savannah Ri ver Ecol ogy Lab r ecent l y compl et ed a sur vey of mor e t han 300 r epor t s on ash ponds and animal toxicity for the EPA. Accordi ng t o Hopki ns, ash- set t l i ng ponds can be pr obl emat i c f or i ndi g- enous aquat i c or gani sms and t hose that use these sites seasonally. ‘ ‘ By bui l di ng t hese l ar ge cont ami - nat ed wet l ands, power pl ant s ar e ac- t ual l y at t r act i ng wi l dl i f e away f r om sur r oundi ng uncont ami nat ed si t es, ’ ’ he said. Coal combust i on wast e r ef er s t o several kinds of ash and other materi- al s, i ncl udi ng ci nder s, sl ag and bot - tom ash collected at the bottom of the boi l er s; f l y ash col l ect ed f r om f l ue gases; and sludge from scrubbers de- si gned t o r emove sul f ur di oxi de — a cause of aci d r ai n — f r om ai r emi s-

sions. The envi r onment al quest i ons ar i se from other natural elements in ash — smal l amount s of heavy met al s or metal-like substances, such as boron, selenium, arsenic and manganese. The effects of ash may be subtle or drasti c, from changes i n bl ood chem- i st r y t o bi r t h def ect s t o deat h, Hop- kins said. Most of t he evi dence of har m t o wi l dl i f e came f rom ei ght power pl ant sites in such states as North Carolina, Texas and Wi sconsi n, Hopki ns sai d. None of the studied sites were in Ken- tucky or Indiana. An i nt er nal EPA document f r om Mar ch 2000 concl uded t her e wer e 11 cases of pr oven wat er pol l ut i on f r om coal wast e i n t he Uni t ed St at es — wi t h none i n Kent ucky or I ndi ana.

Envi r onment al gr oups and sci ent i st s hired by them as consultants maintain t her e ar e dozens mor e cases, i ncl ud- ing several in Indiana. Much of the problem involves older l andf i l l s or ponds, wher e ash has been exposed t o wat er f or many year s, sai d Donal d S. Cher r y, a pr o- fessor of aquatic ecotoxicology at Vir- ginia Tech University, who conducted r esear ch f or t he I ndi anapol i s- based Hoosier Environmental Council. ‘ ‘ The l onger t he f i l l si t s t her e t hr ough t i me, t her e wi l l be seepage down- gr adi ent , ’ ’ Cher r y sai d. ‘ ‘ I t ’ s just a matter of time.’’

S ta te s s e t o w n ru le s

For 25 year s, t he EPA has exempt -

ed coal ash f r om i t s ‘ ‘ hazar dous wast e’ ’ def i ni t i on. Thi s deci si on, whi ch i t ‘ ‘ tentati vel y’ ’ reaffi rmed two years ago, exempts the ash from more r est r i ct i ve and expensi ve di sposal met hods, i ncl udi ng det ai l ed t r acki ng of waste shipments, special liners and long-term pollution monitoring. The absence of f eder al r egul at i ons l eaves each st at e t o set i t s own r ul es

for disposal. The result is a regulatory

COAL COMBUSTION WASTE PLACED IN INDIANA SURFACE MINES SINCE 1989 (in tons) ’89’89’89 ’90’90’90
COAL COMBUSTION WASTE
PLACED IN INDIANA SURFACE
MINES SINCE 1989 (in tons)
’89’89’89
’90’90’90
’91’91’91
’92’92’92
’93’93’93
’94’94’94
’95’95’95
’96’96’96
’97’97’97
’98’98’98
’99’99’99
’00’00’00
’01’01’01
’02*’02*’02* GGGRRRAAANNNDDD
*1st*1st*1st quarterquarterquarter
TTTOOOTTTAAALLL
270,364270,364270,364
254,806254,806254,806
000
320,000320,000320,000
000
000
185,942185,942185,942
150,804150,804150,804
148,908148,908148,908
292,388292,388292,388
274,072274,072274,072
1,097,5401,097,5401,097,540
1,093,2351,093,2351,093,235
205,261205,261205,261
4,293,320

INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

BY DEVON MORGAN, THE C-J

COAL ASH RESEARCH

Research on tadpole development in coal ash ponds at the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory has linked deformities with heavy metals in the water.

NORMAL

 

DEFORMED

 

TADPOLE

 

TADPOLE

 
DEFORMED   TADPOLE   TADPOLE   Top view Underside SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
DEFORMED   TADPOLE   TADPOLE   Top view Underside SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
DEFORMED   TADPOLE   TADPOLE   Top view Underside SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
DEFORMED   TADPOLE   TADPOLE   Top view Underside SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
DEFORMED   TADPOLE   TADPOLE   Top view Underside SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

Top view

Underside

SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA SAVANNAH RIVER ECOLOGY LABORATORY

hodgepodge, even within states. Consi der t hat Kent ucky — whi ch now says t hat new ash or scr ubber sl udge l andf i l l s most l i kel y wi l l need st at e- of - t he- ar t pl ast i c l i ner s, wat er col l ect i on syst ems, and pol l ut i on moni t or i ng wel l s — per mi t s power compani es t o put ash i n ponds wi t h no pl ast i c l i ner s and has no r equi r e- ment f or gr oundwat er moni t or i ng near or beneath the empoundments. Kent ucky does r equi r e power pl ant s t o t est t he ef f l uent f r om ash ponds f or t oxi ci t y t o f i sh. I ndi ana does not. Randy Bi r d, pr oj ect consul t ant f or Lexi ngt on- based Envi r oPower , di s- agr eed t hat t he l i ner f or t he com- pany’ s Kent ucky Mount ai n Power plant in Knott County was necessary. ‘ ‘ We agr eed t o l i ne i t j ust t o expe- dite our permitting process. We didn’t f eel l i ke we want ed t o f i ght t he bat - tle.’’ Kent ucky al so pr ohi bi t s t he pl ace- ment of ash i n st r i p mi ne pi t s wi t hi n f our f eet of t he wat er t abl e — a l aw t hat has vi rt ual l y prevent ed t he prac- tice. But it’s a different story in Indiana, wher e f i l l i ng mi nes wi t h ash has r ai sed t he hackl es of envi r onment al - ists and some residents since the state aut hor i zed t he pr act i ce i n 1988. The ash can be dumped by itself or mixed wi t h di r t di r ect l y i n t he wat er t abl e, and wi t h no l ong- t er m moni t or i ng or l ong- t er m f i nanci al assur ances t hat future pollution problems will be cor- rected. This worries Perry and Linda Dive- ly, and their neighbor, Ethel Zink. The t hr ee shar e a dr i nki ng- wat er wel l near t he Bl ack Beaut y Coal Co. mine in southwestern Indiana near Pi- ment o, sout h of Ter r e Haut e. Bl ack Beaut y has one per mi t t o dump ash and is seeking a second one. ‘ ‘ I f we don’ t have wat er , we’ r e not goi ng t o have anyt hi ng her e, ’ ’ Zi nk sai d. ‘ I’ ve never heard anyt hi ng good about ash.’’ Bl ack Beaut y of f i ci al s r ef er r ed

BY DEVON MORGAN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

quest i ons about mi ne- pl acement of ash t o Nat Nol and, pr esi dent of t he Indiana Coal Council.

I t ’ s i mpor t ant t hat I ndi ana coal companies be allowed to return ash to

mi nes, because some power compa-

ni es don’ t have enough space f or t he material, Noland said. Thi s i s somet hi ng t hat I l l i noi s al - l ows, and I ndi ana coal compani es

need an even pl ayi ng f i el d wi t h i t s compet i t or s acr oss t he st at e l i ne, he said. In addition, the practice has proved

to be safe, Noland said.

Indi ana Department of Natural Re- sources of f i ci al s agree wi t h Nol and’ s assessment. The rel at i vel y i mpermeabl e soi l on the bottom and sides of the strip mine

pi t s wi l l sl ow t he movement of any

pot ent i al cont ami nant s, sai d Br uce

St evens, di r ect or of t he DNR’ s Di vi -

sion of Reclamation. ‘ ‘ We l ook and see wher e peopl e’ s

dr i nki ng- wat er wel l s ar e, ’ ’ St evens

said. ‘‘We are going to err on the side

of

caution.’’ The wel l shar ed by Zi nk and t he

Di

vel ys ‘ ‘ i s a mi l e away f r om t he

nearest mining,’’ Stevens said. ‘‘Their well supply won’t be impacted.’’ But Roland Baker, a neighbor, said nobody is worried about the wells go- i ng bad i n j ust a year or t wo. ‘ ‘ I t may not take until our grandkids,’’ he said. ‘ ‘ But by t hen, nobody wi l l be respon- sible.’’

C o n s tru c tio n fill c o n c e rn s

Environmentalists are also worried about one increasingly popular use of ash as construction fill. Kent ucky and I ndi ana al l ow any

vol ume of ash t o be used t hi s way,

r equi r i ng nei t her l i ner s nor gr ound-

water monitoring. Some ci t i es, wi t h r ugged t er r ai n and f ew bui l dabl e f l at sur f aces, ar e

gr at ef ul f or what amount s t o f r ee or

nearly free construction material from

power plants. Wi l der , Ky. , sout h of Ci nci nnat i , has used ash ext ensi vel y f or sever al

years for const ruct i on si t es al ong t he

Li cki ng Ri ver — even wi t hi n t he

boundar i es of t he 100- year f l ood plain. ‘ ‘ I f we t hought t her e was anyt hi ng

hazar dous, we woul dn’ t have done

this, ’ ’ said Terry Vance, city adminis- t r at or . ‘ ‘ So f ar i t ’ s wor ked out pr et t y good.’’ I ndi ana l awmaker s have gr ant ed these legislatively defined ‘‘beneficial reuses’ ’ of ash a compl et e exempt i on f rom envi ronment al l aws, sai d Bruce Pal i n, deput y assi st ant commi ssi oner f or t he I ndi ana Depar t ment of Envi - r onment al Management ’ s Of f i ce of Land Quality. Palin said he knows of no abuses. In Kentucky, power plants must re- por t once a year how much of t hei r ash goes to beneficial uses and identi-

fy them.

But t her e’ s no r equi r ement t hat power plants, haulers or building con- t r act or s f i l e any advance not i ce so r egul at or s can make sur e t he dump- ing follows proper engineering princi-

pl es and i s not mer el y bei ng done t o

avoid the cost of using a landfill. Ther e’ s al so no r equi r ement t hat t he compani es obt ai n a per mi t t hat assur es t he const r uct i on f i l l wi l l be designed to prevent pollution. Hancock Count y Judge- Execut i ve Jack B. McCasl i n di scover ed how l oose t he benef i ci al - use r egul at i ons wer e l ast year , when a const i t uent compl ai ned about ash dumped on

ei ght acr es of r ur al l and i n hi s West -

ern Kentucky county. The pr oper t y was bei ng f i l l ed so

the landowner could put up a storage building, McCaslin said. But the ash pile looked like an open dump to hi m, so he contacted the en-

vi r onment al pr ot ect i on cabi net . The

cabinet stepped in and stopped West-

er

n Kent ucky Ener gy, f i l i ng a not i ce

of

violation. The f i l l was t oo l arge i n rel at i on t o

the size of the building, said Ron Gru- zesky, envi r onment al engi neer i ng branch manager in the cabinet’s Divi- sion of Waste Management. LG&E Energy, the parent company of West er n Ener gy, sai d i n a l et t er f r om i t s l egal st af f t o st at e of f i ci al s t hat i t had done not hi ng wr ong wi t h t he Hancock Count y ash. The com- pany sai d t he Hancock pr oj ect was like many others the state allowed. The company l at er deci ded not t o

pr

oceed wi t h t he pr oj ect , sai d Car yl

Pf

ei f f er , envi r onment al af f ai r s di r ec-

tor for LG&E Energy. McCasl i n sai d t he st at e never

woul d have known about t he dump- i ng i f he hadn’ t cal l ed. ‘ ‘ I know we gotta have power. But I think the state needs t o get a bet t er handl e on t hi s stuff.’’ St at e of f i ci al s agr eed wi t h McCas- lin’s assessment.

Absent a per mi t - appr oval pr ocess,

somet i mes i nspect or s must r el y on t i ps f rom t he publ i c or l ocal of f i ci al s, sai d Bi l l Bur ger , manager of t he waste management division’s field op- erations branch. As a r emedy, t he agency has r e- cent l y r ecommended t hat power

pl ant s and t hei r haul er s come t o i t

f i rst wi t h t hei r const ruct i on f i l l pl ans — even if the law doesn’t require it. ‘ ‘ For the maj ori ty of cases, i ndi vi d- uals are coming to us ahead of time,’’ sai d Rober t Dani el l , di r ect or of t he waste management division. Usi ng ash f or const r uct i on f i l l i s a l egi t i mat e pr act i ce and one t hat t he EPA wants to encourage, said Dennis Ruddy, t he EPA’ s poi nt per son on coal wast e i ssues. But t hat ’ s onl y i f ash i s t est ed i n advance f or pot ent i al t oxi ci t y, and i f i t s pl acement i s engi - neer ed t o mi ni mi ze i t s cont act wi t h water, he said. ‘ ‘ I f you back up a dump t r uck and

f i l l up a hol l ow wi t h no pr e- pl anni ng

t hat i s what we

and engi neer i ng are trying to avoid.’’

A n e y e to th e fu tu re

EPA officials came close to classify- i ng ash dest i ned f or l andf i l l s, ponds

or strip mines as hazardous two years

ago, af t er i t f ound t hat 86 per cent of groundwat er sampl es t aken near ash l andf i l l s cont ai ned ar seni c l evel s mor e t han 10 t i mes t he EPA’ s new health standard. The det er mi nat i on coul d have cost t he i ndust r y hundr eds of mi l l i ons, i f not sever al bi l l i ons, of dol l ar s. I n t he end, t he dr af t deci si on t hat woul d have done so was r ever sed af t er i n- dustry lobbying. EPA officials still intend to propose

a nat i onal r ul e on ash di sposal t o make sur e t hat st at es f ol l ow a set of minimum protections, Ruddy said. ‘ ‘ We’ r e t r yi ng t o keep t r ack of

wher e you put i t f or f ut ur e gener a- t i ons, ’ ’ he sai d. ‘ ‘ We’ r e t r yi ng t o pr e- vent future problems.’’ He acknowl edged t hat t he r ul es might call for long-term monitoring of ash l andf i l l s and pl aces wher e ash i s dumped in strip mines. Wi t h mi ne- f i l l i ng, he sai d, t he gov-

er nment may r equi r e compani es t o

post envi r onment al per f or mance

bonds that extend for decades, ensur-

i ng a pot of money t o pay f or f ut ur e remediation. Or i gi nal l y, t he EPA pr omi sed i t woul d r el ease t he dr af t r ul es next year. It has si nce moved t he deadl i ne back t o ear l y 2004 because of a need for additional analyses, he said. I ndi ana’ s Nat ur al Resour ces Com-

mi ssi on i n Jul y pr el i mi nar i l y ap-

pr oved t he st at e’ s gr oundwat er pr o-

t ect i on st andar ds. The DNR al so an- nounced i t wi l l seek a per- t on charge f or ash dumped i n ol d st r i p mi nes t o raise money for future environmental cleanups if they’re needed. The gr oundwat er st andar ds al so may f or ce r est r i ct i ons on ash ponds,

said Tim Method, deputy commission- er f or t he I ndi ana envi r onment al management department. ‘‘We are going through a process to

i dent i f y any act i vi t i es t hat cur r ent l y

ar e not r egul at ed or ar e under - r egu-

l at ed, ’ ’ Met hod sai d. ‘ ‘ Ash ponds

would fall on that list.’’ The moves addr ess onl y some of the critics’ concerns.

The coal i ndust r y wi l l l i kel y f i ght any t ax on ash di sposal , sai d Nol and

of the Indiana Coal Council.

‘‘We are so close to seeing what the EPA i s goi ng t o r ecommend t o t he states, ’ ’ he sai d. ‘ ‘ To get ahead of the

EPA at thi s poi nt does not make a l ot

of sense.’’

Kent ucky’ s envi r onment al pr ot ec- t i on has cal l ed f or sever al changes, among them:

The est abl i shment of st at ewi de groundwater standards. Gr oundwat er moni t or i ng at al l ash ponds. Gr eat er scr ut i ny of ash when used as const r uct i on f i l l , i ncl udi ng groundwater monitoring. Patton administration officials have l i ttl e hope that the General Assembl y will tighten the rules on coal ash. Too many peopl e i n Kent ucky t hi nk envi - r onment al r egul at i ons have gone t oo far and are too costly, said Logan, the environmental protection department commissioner. So his cabinet is look- i ng at what can be done wi t hi n exi st - ing laws, he said. Regul at or s may not need t o l ook f ur t her t han t he st at e’ s new power plant siting law, which requires great-

er scrutiny of new power plants.

‘ ‘ The l egi sl at ur e made i t cl ear t hat i f ( new) pl ant s ar e goi ng t o si t e her e

i n t he st at e, t hey wi l l be expect ed t o pay t he f ul l cost of doi ng busi ness

her e, ’ ’ sai d Tom Fi t zGer al d, di r ect or

of the environmental group Kentucky

Resources Counci l , who hel ped wri t e t he bi l l . ‘ ‘ They can’ t shi f t t hose cost s by undermanaging their wastes.’’

l , who hel ped wri t e t he bi l l . ‘ ‘
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A24 ASH AND WASTE FROM COAL-BASED ELECTRIC PRODUCTION Electric utilities

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A24

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2002 — A24 ASH AND WASTE FROM COAL-BASED ELECTRIC PRODUCTION Electric utilities have
ASH AND WASTE FROM COAL-BASED ELECTRIC PRODUCTION Electric utilities have reduced air emissions significantly while
ASH AND WASTE FROM COAL-BASED ELECTRIC PRODUCTION
Electric utilities have reduced air emissions significantly while increasing electricity production and tripling the use of coal since 1970. But as air emissions are decreased,
the amount of waste ash tends to increase. Future pollution controls could make ash more potentially polluting or more difficult to reuse in commercial products. The
illustration below represents one common type of coal-fired power plant.
Scrubber
A device used to remove sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) from the boiler
exhaust (flue) gas.
Coal
Electric utilities use coal to
generate nearly 57 percent
of our nation’s electricity
Stack
A structure used to
exhaust and disperse
the hot flue gases from
the boiler.
WASTE: FLUE GAS DUSULFURIZATION WAST
E
(SCRUBBER SLUDGE) Waste produced
during
the
process of removing sulfur gases from the flue
gases.
Steam Generator (Boiler)
A large vessel that contains an
assembly of tubes in which
water is heated to steam that
is then used to drive a turbine.
Transformer
An electromagnetic device that increases the output voltage of the
generator while reducing the current (amperage) to make the
transmission of electricity more efficient.
Precipitator
A device used to remove the fly ash
from the boiler exhaust (flue) gas.
Burner
A nozzle device, generally
located in the lower boiler
walls, which introduces the
pulverized coal into the bo
iler
and mixes with the correct
amount of additional air to
WASTE: FLY ASH
A light gray or tan powder that is the largest
byproduct of coal combustion. Fly ash
becomes entrained with, and carried out of
the boiler by, the hot exhaust (flue) gases.
burn the fuel.
MAIN STEAM
Turbine
A device consisting of fan-type blades attached to a shaft that is spun by expand
steam, converting the kinetic energy of the steam into mechanical energy.
i
n
g
Cooling tower
AIR
Primary air fan/ pulverizer
Devices that prepares coal for burning by
grinding it to a fine powder, drying and mixing
it with hot air to create an efficiently
combustible fuel.
A device
that cools the
cooling
water by evaporating
WASTE: BOTTOM ASH
Generator
A machine that transforms the mechanical
energy of the turbine into electric energy.
a
small
portion of it and
A coal-combustion byproduct that
reducing the amount of heat
collects on the wall of the boiler,
that
is
rel
eased to rivers, lakes
eventually falling to the bottom, where it
and
streams.
is collected. Bottom ash is a ceramic-like
material.
Cooling water
Outside water used to condense the
steam passing through the condenser.
WATER
to condense the steam passing through the condenser. WATER HOW IT’S USED OR DISPOSED OF ASH

HOW IT’S USED OR DISPOSED OF

ASH PONDS

Pipes from plant dump effluent into first pond. Water from that pond flows into second pond. Cleaner water drains to river.

pond flows into second pond. Cleaner water drains to river. BY DURELL HALL, JR, THE COURIER-JOURNAL
pond flows into second pond. Cleaner water drains to river. BY DURELL HALL, JR, THE COURIER-JOURNAL
pond flows into second pond. Cleaner water drains to river. BY DURELL HALL, JR, THE COURIER-JOURNAL
pond flows into second pond. Cleaner water drains to river. BY DURELL HALL, JR, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

BY DURELL HALL, JR, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Coal ash mixed with water poured into first of two settling ponds at the Gallagher power plant in Southern Indiana.

LANDFILL

at the Gallagher power plant in Southern Indiana. LANDFILL BY STEWART BOWMAN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL Aerial view

BY STEWART BOWMAN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Aerial view shows the hollow that is being filled in with coal ash at the Lodestar Energy Inc., dump in Ivel, Ky.

BENEFICIAL USES

the Lodestar Energy Inc., dump in Ivel, Ky. BENEFICIAL USES Roughly 30% of coal combustion waste

Roughly 30% of coal combustion waste goes toward so-called "beneficial re-use." Some of those uses:

BOTTOM ASH

Asphalt

Concrete aggregate

Insulation

Abrasive grit

Road and building fill

FLY ASH

Cement

Road and building filler

Waste stabilizer

SCRUBBER SLUDGE

Wallboard

SOURCES: EDISON ELECTRIC INSTITUTE, CYNERGY, C-J RESEARCH

BY JOANNE MESHEW, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

CYNERGY, C-J RESEARCH BY JOANNE MESHEW, THE COURIER-JOURNAL NEW TECHNOLOGY Air kept cleaner, but scientists study
CYNERGY, C-J RESEARCH BY JOANNE MESHEW, THE COURIER-JOURNAL NEW TECHNOLOGY Air kept cleaner, but scientists study
CYNERGY, C-J RESEARCH BY JOANNE MESHEW, THE COURIER-JOURNAL NEW TECHNOLOGY Air kept cleaner, but scientists study
CYNERGY, C-J RESEARCH BY JOANNE MESHEW, THE COURIER-JOURNAL NEW TECHNOLOGY Air kept cleaner, but scientists study
CYNERGY, C-J RESEARCH BY JOANNE MESHEW, THE COURIER-JOURNAL NEW TECHNOLOGY Air kept cleaner, but scientists study
CYNERGY, C-J RESEARCH BY JOANNE MESHEW, THE COURIER-JOURNAL NEW TECHNOLOGY Air kept cleaner, but scientists study

NEW TECHNOLOGY

Air kept cleaner, but scientists study if risk migrates

By JAMES BRUGGERS

jbruggers@courier-journal.com The Courier-Journal

They cal l i t ‘ ‘ cl ean- coal t ech- nology.’’ It involves new methods of bur ni ng coal and scr ubbi ng smokest acks t hat of f er hope of cut t i ng emi ssi ons f r om power plants. That ’ s a pot ent i al r el i ef f or ast hma sufferers and ot hers wi t h l ung probl ems i n Kentucky, Indi - ana and ot her coal - bur ni ng states. But some of t he new t echnol - ogi es pr oduce mor e combust i on wast e — up t o 60 per cent mor e wi t h one t ype of bur ner — t hat must be disposed of or used com- mer ci al l y. And some peopl e, i n- cl udi ng envi r onment al i st s and Kent ucky envi r onment al r egul a- t or s, ar e concer ned t hat ash may begin to contain larger quantities of potentially harmful pollutants. ‘ ‘ Cl ean- coal t echnol ogy i s a code word for ‘Let’s just generate mor e wast e t han ever bef or e, ’ ’ ’ sai d Jef f r ey St ant , an I ndi ana consul t ant t o t he Cl ean Ai r Task For ce, a nonpr of i t advocacy

gr oup based i n Bost on. He i s a l eadi ng nat i onal cr i t i c of how power compani es manage t hei r ash. Resear cher s at t he Uni ver si t y of Kent ucky and l abor at or i es around the country are beginning t o t urn t hei r at t ent i on t o t he sub- ject. What the scientists find will an- swer not only questions about the pot ent i al r i sk of new f or ms of ash, but al so t he ext ent t o whi ch t he ash can be used commer ci al - l y. Pol l ut ant s or ot her i mpur i t i es coul d t hr eat en gr oundwat er or r ender t he coal wast e usel ess as an ingredient in products such as cement or wallboard. ‘ ‘ We have made as a nat i onal decision that air pollution control i s t he Number 1 pr i or i t y wi t hout consi der i ng some of t he sol i d- waste issues that go with it,’’ said Tom Robl , associ at e di r ect or of UK’ s Cent er f or Appl i ed Ener gy Research. ‘ ‘ As a r esul t , we’ r e goi ng t o have more solids to handle.’’ Wat chi ng cl osel y wi l l be envi - r onment al r egul at or s, who know t hat any changes i n ash cont ent

will need to be scrutinized to pre- vent pollution. ‘ ‘ We’ r e not goi ng t o have t he same ( ash) mat er i al s, ’ ’ sai d Bob Logan, commissioner of the Ken- t ucky Depar t ment of Envi r on- mental Protection. For exampl e, bot h Pr esi dent Bush’ s Cl ear Ski es I ni t i at i ve and compet i ng l egi sl at i on sponsor ed by Sen. Ji m Jef f or ds, a Ver mont independent, seek to reduce mer- cur y, a t oxi c t r ace met al , i n power-plant emissions. Keepi ng i t out of t he ai r coul d concent r at e i t i n t he ash — r ai s- i ng t he r i sk of gr oundwat er con- tamination from landfills and set- tling ponds. ‘‘This is a potential issue,’’ said Tom Feeley, a project manager at the federal National Energy Tech- nology Laboratory in Pittsburgh. Pr el i mi nar y st udi es suggest t hat mer cur y, whi ch can cause br ai n damage i n humans, does not wash out of coal ash, Feel ey said. ‘ ‘ But if you are taking the mer- cur y out of f l ue gas, i t ’ s goi ng t o go someplace.’’

PROPOSEDPROPOSEDPROPOSED VIGOVIGOVIGO SULLIVANSULLIVANSULLIVAN COAL-FIREDCOAL-FIREDCOAL-FIRED I I I N N N D D D
PROPOSEDPROPOSEDPROPOSED
VIGOVIGOVIGO
SULLIVANSULLIVANSULLIVAN
COAL-FIREDCOAL-FIREDCOAL-FIRED
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D D D
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I
I
A N A
A N A
A N A
MASONMASONMASON
POWERPOWERPOWER PLANTSPLANTSPLANTS
PIKEPIKEPIKE
Louisville
MARTINMARTINMARTIN
CLARKCLARKCLARK
HENDERSONHENDERSONHENDERSON
ESTILLESTILLESTILL
Source: Indiana
Department of
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Environmental
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Management and
Kentucky Natural
MUHLENBERGMUHLENBERGMUHLENBERG
Resources and
MARSHALLMARSHALLMARSHALL
Environmental
Protection Cabinet

BY STEVE DURBIN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL

Protection Cabinet BY STEVE DURBIN, THE COURIER-JOURNAL BY CHRIS HALL JR., SPECIAL TO THE COURIER-JOURNAL A

BY CHRIS HALL JR., SPECIAL TO THE COURIER-JOURNAL

A worker last month loaded gypsum for transport from the Louisville Gas & Electric plant in Bedford, Ky. The plant produces a synthetic gypsum using calcium sulfate waste from the plant’s scrubbers.

plant in Bedford, Ky. The plant produces a synthetic gypsum using calcium sulfate waste from the