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World of coal ash

Editorial | June 1, 2015 | By:

What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports issa goin’ on here?
—Slim Pickens as Taggart in “Blazing Saddles”

By Ron Bygness

I could not help recalling that memorable line from the classic Mel Brooks movie while I was first investigating an industry conference on the subject of coal ash. Truly, what is going on here?

What was going on in Nashville this past May 5–7 was the sixth edition of the World of Coal Ash biennial conference, universally referred to as WOCA (wō-cä). Organized originally in 1995, and meeting through 2003 as the International Ash Utilization Symposia, the first WOCA joint conference was convened in 2005 in Lexington, Ky., by the American Coal Ash Association and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research.

The 2015 edition of WOCA in downtown Nashville was a bustling affair, with an overflowing exhibit hall, six plenary speakers, and just under 200 technical papers and presentations. Thank you EPA! Yes, thanks to the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rulings and regulations regarding coal ash, the attendance, exhibits, and technical sessions at the 2015 WOCA event spiked by almost 100% over previous conferences.

While the substance itself—coal combustion residuals (CCRs), created by coal-burning plants to produce electricity—was the star of the show, I wanted to hear about the geosynthetics applications. And there were plenty, although I heard the word “liner” much more often than our mighty friends, “geomembrane” and “GCL.”

So stay tuned. In forthcoming issues of Geosynthetics, you could read about:

  • 25 years experience with an HDPE-lined ashing system.
  • planning for changes—coal ash basins and landfills.
  • stormwater systems associated with active ash pond closures.
  • lessons learned in coal ash pond closures.

That is what’s going on here.

And speaking of great conferences, planning is in the works already for Geotechnical Frontiers 2017. Save the dates now for this great event, co-organized by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) and the Geo-Institute of ASCE (remember 2005 in Austin, Texas, and 2011 in Dallas?): March 12–15, 2017, in Orlando, Fla.

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