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EPA seeks information on beneficial use and piles of coal ash

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World Coal,

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has releasing a notice seeking information and data related to the beneficial use and piles of coal combustion residuals (CCR, commonly known as coal ash).

“EPA has long promoted the beneficial use of industrial materials like coal ash, which has economic and environmental benefits,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Land and Emergency Management, Peter Wright. “We are committed to listening to our stakeholders to ensure our regulations promote and not hinder environmentally responsible beneficial use and are protective of human health and the environment.”

Coal ash can be beneficially used to make new products, such as wallboard or concrete. Due to the many potentially useful properties of coal ash, a vast array of businesses from construction to agriculture and manufacturing choose coal ash as a substitute for other materials. In 2015, EPA published a final rule that encouraged the continued beneficial uses of coal ash. Certain provisions were subsequently challenged in court.

In August 2019, EPA proposed a rule to address two provisions of the 2015 coal ash rule remanded to the agency by the DC Circuit Court:

  1. 12 400-t threshold for an environmental demonstration in the beneficial use definition.
  2. Different requirements for ‘piles’ of coal ash located on-site of a utility and those that are located off-site but destined for beneficial use.

EPA has held further technical discussions with a broad array of stakeholders and has decided to defer finalising the rule to gather additional information and data, including:

  • Information on how coal ash is beneficially used to help the agency distinguish among the different types of beneficial use applications. Information on the management of coal ash at each point in its distribution system.
  • Information on federal, state and local program provisions and regulations related to beneficial use and piles of coal ash.

EPA will use this new information to help inform the reconsideration of the beneficial use definition and provisions for piles of coal ash. There will be a 60-day comment period following Federal Register publication.

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