State receives permit applications for reuse of coal ash at two clay mines

Raleigh

RALEIGH – State environmental officials have received permit applications to reuse some of the coal ash now stored at power facilities as structural fill in open-pit clay mines in Lee and Chatham counties.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources received the permit applications Nov. 21. In one set of permit applications, Green Meadow, LLC and Charah, Inc. applied to the Division of Waste Management to construct new engineered structural fill sites with berms, channels, haul roads and engineered lined containment areas at the Brickhaven No. 2 Mine Tract “A” in Chatham County near Moncure and the Colon Mine Site in Sanford. In the other set of permit applications, General Shale Brick Inc. applied to the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources to transfer the existing mining permits for both mines to Green Meadow LLC. The package submitted also includes a request from Green Meadow LLC to modify the existing mining permits at both sites to allow the construction of engineered structural fills within the existing mining permit boundaries. The company is applying to begin work on the structural fill projects at both permitted mine sites in early 2015.

Duke Energy announced Nov. 13 its intentions to reuse coal ash by shipping some of it from the Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly and the L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant in Wilmington to the open-pit clay mines in Chatham and Lee counties. The utility has also announced plans to reuse some coal ash at its Asheville Power Plant at an existing lined structural fill project at the Asheville Regional Airport and to reuse some of the coal ash from the Dan River facility at an existing lined landfill in Jetersville, Va.

The state Division of Waste Management is reviewing the structural fill permits for both mines. The structural fill permit is a new permit required by the 2014 Coal Ash Management Act when coal ash is reused as structural fill on a site. Under the new coal ash law, the division is required to issue draft permits within 90 days of determining the applications are complete. The law further requires the division to solicit public comments and hold a public hearing on the draft permits. Final permit decisions are required within 60 days of the comment period closing.

Another program in the environmental agency – the N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources – is reviewing the request to transfer and modify existing mining permits at both mines. If the transfers occur, Green Meadow, LLC would become the legally-responsible party for the two mining permits. If the requests for permit modification are approved, Green Meadow, LLC will be allowed to construct engineered structural fills as a method of reclamation within the existing mining permit boundaries as authorized by the conditions of the structural fill permits issued by the Division of Waste Management.

A copy of the applications for the structural fill permits and the transfer and modification of the mining permits can be found on DENR’s website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/guest/coal-ash-disposal .

As part of its review of the permits received Nov. 21, the department will need to determine whether additional environmental permits are necessary.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to produce new federal rules for coal ash in December. The permits the state is considering could be affected by the federal rules anticipated from the EPA.

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