State environmental committee to meet next week in Charlotte on rules for reusing coal ash

Raleigh

RALEIGH – A state environmental committee willmeet in Charlotte Monday to continue discussing whether state rules on the beneficial reuse of coal ash are sufficient to protect public health and the environment, other options for reusing coal ash and the status of anticipated federal regulations on coal ash.

The Beneficial Reuse of Coal Ash Ad Hoc Committee, which is composed of five members of the Environmental Management Commission, will meet at 10 a.m. Monday at UNC-Charlotte’s Campus Energy and Infrastructure Center Room 3344. The meeting is open to the public but space is limited so arrangements are being made to live stream the meeting via webinar. Faculty with UNC-Charlotte and staff with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources have been invited to make presentations and participate in the discussion.

Coal ash, a waste product generated when coal is converted into electricity, is typically stored in impoundments or sent to landfills at coal-fired power plants. It has been reused as structural fill on highway grading projects, airport runways and other projects, and is also an ingredient used in wallboard, concrete and a host of other products.

A report from the ad hoc committee on its findings and any recommended changes to state regulations is due to the state legislature’s Environmental Review Commission by Jan. 15, 2015. A moratorium has been put in place until Aug. 1, 2015 for reusing coal ash in structural fill projects, except in certain cases such as state transportation projects. The ad hoc committee had its first meeting Nov. 12 during a full meeting of the Environmental Management Commission.

Environmental officials were prompted to take a closer look at rules for the beneficial reuse of coal ash as part of the state’s review of North Carolina’s 14 power plants with coal ash impoundments. Duke Energy estimates there are 108 million tons of coal ash at impoundments statewide.

On Monday, the ad hoc committee will outline its responsibilities, discuss how coal ash is managed and hear from DENR staff who enforce the state’s environmental regulations for reusing coal ash.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to produce new federal rules for coal ash in December. Any changes the state committee decides to make regarding the beneficial reuse of coal ash could be affected by the rules anticipated from the EPA.

A copy of Monday’s meeting agenda can be found in a blog on DENR’s webpage devoted to coal ash at: http://bit.ly/1vmfFw8 . Instructions on following the meeting via the webinar will be posted in the same blog later this week.

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