The news has been full of stories and articles concerning Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR), also referred to as coal ash. CCR became a hot topic in 2008 when a coal ash pond at a utility plant in Tennessee spilled more than 5 million cubic yards of coal ash into a nearby river. The bad news continued in 2014 when a broken pipe under a coal ash pond at Duke Energy’s Eden, North Carolina facility allowed an estimated 30,000 cubic yards of coal ash to spill into the Dan River. Dominion Power is now closing its coal ash ponds in Virginia, and there have been public protests and lawsuits associated with how its closures are being completed.
CCR is generated when coal is burned to produce electricity. According to EPA, it is one of the largest industrial waste streams generated in the U.S. Most CCR is in dry form and historically has been placed in on-site landfills or beneficially reused as fill or replacement for raw materials in products like wallboard, concrete and brick. Sometimes, however, CCR is managed in surface impoundments and wet ponds. CCR may contain low levels of mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.
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