Coal Combustion Residual Rules

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) is initiating rule making on rules drafted by the state agency to better protect public health and the environment when coal ash wastes are disposed of and recycled.


The state agency made the draft rules available for review and feedback from Feb. 8 to Apr. 6. 2018.  Public meetings were held on Feb. 12 in Roxboro, Feb. 20 in Dallas, Feb. 22 in Wilmington, and Mar. 27 in Gastonia.


Status of Rule Making Process

Staff from NCDEQ's Division of Energy, Minerals, and Land Resources (DEMLR) and the Division of Waste Management (DWM) presented the proposed rules to the Groundwater and Waste Management Committee (GWWMC) of the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) at it's May 9, 2018 meeting.  The GWWMC approved the proposed rules to be presented to the full EMC at it's July 12, 2018 meeting to proceed to a formal 60-day public comment period. NCDEQ will review comments received and then present final proposed rules to the full EMC for adoption. If the rules are approved by the EMC, they will then be presented to the Rules Review Commission, which has the final say on whether to approve the rules.


The agenda for the May 2018 meeting of the GWWMC includes links to the DWM and DEMLR presentations and proposed rules.


Overview of Coal Combustion Residuals Rule Development

Coal ash, a waste product generated when coal is burned to generate electricity, is typically stored in impoundments or sent to landfills at coal-fired power plants. The draft rules incorporate specific requirements from a set of federal rules enacted by the EPA in 2015 that outline how coal ash landfills are to be designed, constructed, and operated. The 90-plus pages of draft rules are intended to be more protective of public health and the environment than existing rules for coal ash disposal and storage.


Existing rules require the operators to build coal ash landfills with protective lining to prevent impacts to groundwater as well as regular environmental monitoring and systems for collecting wastewater. The new rules would add detailed criteria for how the landfills are to be constructed, restrict what sites are suitable for coal ash landfills, and widen the buffers between the landfill and adjoining properties, streams and rivers. The draft rules require operators to inspect landfills weekly and post the findings from those inspections on a publicly-accessible website.