Good news for the nearly 80,000 people who rely on Herrington Lake and the Kentucky River for drinking water: Kentucky Utilities Company (KU) is converting to dry storage for coal combustion residuals, eliminating ash ponds and other storage impoundments at their four coal-fired power plants, including the E.W. Brown Generating Station in Burgin.
Last year, KU settled with the state over a notice of violation regarding government mandated discharge limits of arsenic and selenium. As part of the settlement, KU agreed to conduct further assessments on Herrington Lake and eliminate discharges from the Auxiliary Ash Pond as required by the EPA’s Coal Combustion Residual Rule.
KU’s decision to move toward dry storage predates that dispute, however. According to a press release, the company first made plans to convert to dry storage nearly a decade ago, before the EPA Rule became final.
“We embraced the idea of dry storage for our coal byproducts in 2008,” said Lonnie Bellar, senior vice president of Operations. “We saw this, along with our beneficial reuse programs, as a more environmentally friendly approach to handle the materials that result from burning coal to create energy.”
The utility company also announced they were in the process of closing their coal combustion residual ponds throughout the state. Once processed, the dry materials will be stored on site at the power plants or beneficially reused for materials such as concrete, wallboard or fertilizer, KU said.
The corporation plans to reduce the size of the landfill at E.W. Brown by a third, eliminating an entire section that’s no longer needed. The utility plans to retire the plant’s coal-fired units 1 and 2 in February 2019, making it no longer necessary to construct all three landfill phases.
Over the last year, KU has installed additional groundwater monitoring wells. They found indications that levels of certain metals do not meet the tightened federal standards.
New water treatment systems will be constructed at E.W. Brown and the other KU plants to treat waters that come in contact with waste materials prior to the ash ponds being closed. The new systems are expected to be complete next year.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.