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Duke Energy plan to build fully lined coal ash landfills by August 2019

Published by
World Coal,

Duke Energy plans to submit permits to construct fully lined on-site landfills at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C., and the Sutton Plant in Wilmington, N.C. The landfills will be located on plant property using industry-proven containment and monitoring technologies and will provide a permanent storage solution for more than 6 million t of coal ash at the two sites.

"This plan is a significant step forward in our strategy to close ash basins and manage coal ash across our service area," said John Elnitsky, Duke Energy senior vice president of ash basin strategy. "Our preference is to store coal ash at or near our plant sites, when possible. Sitting these landfills on plant property minimises impacts to the local community while maximising the safe and efficient storage of coal ash at these locations."

The proposed landfills are in addition to off-site solutions that Duke Energy submitted to regulators in November 2014 for more than 3 million t of ash at the plants. The proposed projects will also have contingency capacity for further excavation at the sites, if needed.

Multiple layers of synthetic and natural barriers will be included at both Landfills. Coal ash will be stored dry in the landfills with extra layers of lining installed on top of the landfill – efficiently containing the ash and separating it from surrounding soil and groundwater.

To ensure the landfills operate as designed and the local environment remains protected, extensive groundwater monitoring will be in place.

"Our first priority is ensuring the safety of the public and our environment," said Elnitsky. "We're using a science-based plan, industry-proven technology and advanced engineering to site and construct these fully lined landfills. We will consolidate and contain coal ash at a greater distance from public waters and provide separation from surrounding soil and from groundwater. The excavation plans we have developed represent the best option for disposal of ash at these sites."

Duke Energy evaluated multiple excavation and storage options over many months to ensure the safe management of ash for the future at these sites.

In November 2014, Duke Energy Carolinas announced it would transport approximately 1.2 million t of Dan River Station coal ash predominantly by rail to the Maplewood Landfill in Amelia County, Va. Later this year transporting the ash is predicted to commence in 2016, concurrently with permitting and construction of Dan River Station’s on-site landfill takes place. The designing of the landfill is still in progress. Additional specifications and details will be available when the project permits, from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR), as well as local permitting, are submitted.

"The decision to build an on-site landfill at the Dan River Steam Station is the result of months of surveys and engineering work at the plant, as well as ongoing discussions with local leaders," commented Elnitsky.

Sutton Plant ?coal plant is currently being demolished after closing coal operations in 2013, and the ash basins closed. Sutton Plant is also one of four identified high-priority sites where Duke Energy propose to excavate coal ash. The Sutton Plant contains approximately 7.2 million t of coal ash in basins and other storage areas.

Again in November 2014, Duke Energy Progress stated that a train will transport approximately 2 million t of coal ash and this will be used in a structural fill project at a clay mine in Chatham County in potentially autumn 2015. This is pending receipt of state permits. The first of the Sutton Plant landfill permits will be submitted to NC DENR in May, with construction of the landfill anticipated to begin in early 2016, pending required regulatory approvals. Landfill operations are scheduled to commence in late 2016.

"We must begin moving coal ash as soon as possible in order to comply with the strict timelines laid out in state law," said Elnitsky. "That's why the Chatham County mine project is such an important part of our strategy for the Sutton Plant. We are in discussions with Chatham County leaders now and hope to begin delivering ash to this project soon, even as we develop an on-site landfill for Sutton."

As part of the landfill construction, crews will need to reposition a public access road to Sutton Lake. Access to the lake is expected to remain open to the public throughout construction.

Adapted from press release by Harleigh Hobbs

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