Dan River disaster prompts bipartisan call to action
The North Carolina Senate passed a bill Tuesday, June 24, intended to close every unlined coal ash facility in the state. The preliminary action on this bill passed 45-0.
The bill would set a 15-year deadline (2029) for dewatering and closing all unlined coal ash ponds in North Carolina, specifically designating four sites (Dan River, Asheville, Riverbend, and Sutton) to be excavated and closed no later than 2019. The remaining ash from these four facilities would be directed into lined landfills, according to the preliminary legislation.
Duke Energy’s Dan River plant in Eden, N.C., on the North Carolina-Virginia border, was the site of a rupture last February that released more than 80,000 tons of coal ash into the adjacent Dan River.
The June 24 bill also stops the disposal of wet coal ash and requires future coal ash to be put to a beneficial use or into a lined facility.
The Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) has unceasingly championed the need for lined coal ash containment facilities ever since the Kingston, Tenn., disaster in December 2008:
(The dangers associated with structurally unsafe coal ash impoundments came to national attention in late 2008 when an impoundment holding disposed waste ash generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority broke open, creating a massive spill in Kingston that covered millions of cubic yards of land and water. The spill displaced residents, required hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs, and caused widespread environmental damage. Shortly afterwards, the EPA began overseeing the cleanup, as well as investigating the structural integrity of impoundments where ash waste is stored.)
The current North Carolina Senate bill also calls for a 15-year deadline (2029) for Duke Energy to close all of its unlined coal ash facilities.
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–Ron Bygness, senior editor, Geosynthetics