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Duke Energy to build fully lined coal ash landfills

News | May 5, 2015 | By:

Excavation and lined closures of ash basins by 2019

Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy announced in an April 29 press release that it plans to build two “fully lined” coal ash containment landfills for storing millions of tons of coal ash from two North Carolina power plants.

The landfills will “be built on plant property using industry-proven containment and monitoring technologies,” according to the release.

Duke said it plans to submit permits to construct fully lined on-site landfills at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, on the North Carolina–Virginia border, and at the Sutton Plant in Wilmington, N.C.

The Dan River plant was the site of a disastrous spill in February 2014 when a drainage pipe under an unlined coal ash basin burst, pouring 40,000 tons of coal ash sludge into the river.

The press release continued: “The landfills will be located on plant property and will provide a permanent storage solution for almost 10 million tons of coal ash at the two sites.”

The release noted that the landfills at each site will feature multiple layers of geosynthetic and natural clay barriers. Coal ash will be stored dry in the landfills with additional layers of liners installed on top of the landfill, containing the ash and separating it from surrounding soil and groundwater.

Groundwater monitoring will be installed to “ensure the landfills operate as designed and the local environment remains protected,” according to the release.

The Dan River Steam Station, which was retired in 2012, is one of four coal plants identified as high priority under the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014. Under that law, all ash in basins at the plant site must be fully excavated, with ash stored in a lined landfill or lined structural fill by August 2019. Approximately 2.6 million tons of coal ash is stored at the Dan River site.

The release said that construction of the landfill is expected to begin in 2016, pending necessary regulatory approvals. Landfill operations are scheduled to commence in the first half of 2017.

The Sutton Plant ceased coal operations in 2013 and the facility is currently being demolished and the ash basins closed. Like Dan River, Sutton is one of four identified high-priority sites where Duke Energy will excavate coal ash. The press release said that the first of the Sutton permits will be submitted in May, with landfill construction expected to begin in early 2016. Landfill operations are scheduled to commence in late 2016. The Sutton Plant contains approximately 7.2 million tons of coal ash in basins and other storage areas.

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