(hat tip OMB Watch)
Coal Combustion Residuals, often referred to as coal ash, are currently considered exempt wastes under an amendment to RCRA, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. They are residues from the combustion of coal in power plants and captured by pollution control technologies, like scrubbers. Potential environmental concerns from coal ash pertain to pollution from impoundment and landfills leaching into ground water and structural failures of impoundments, like that which occurred at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plant in Kingston, Tennessee. The need for national management criteria was emphasized by the December 2008 spill of CCRs from a surface impoundment near Kingston, TN. The tragic spill flooded more than 300 acres of land with CCRs and flowed into the Emory and Clinch rivers.
EPA is proposing to regulate for the first time coal ash to address the risks from the disposal of the wastes generated by electric utilities and independent power producers. EPA is considering two possible options for the management of coal ash for public comment. Both options fall under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Under the first proposal, EPA would list these residuals as special wastes subject to regulation under subtitle C of RCRA, when destined for disposal in landfills or surface impoundments. Under the second proposal, EPA would regulate coal ash under subtitle D of RCRA, the section for non-hazardous wastes. The Agency considers each proposal to have its advantages and disadvantages, and includes benefits which should be considered in the public comment period.
Coal Combustion Residuals – Proposed Rule (PDF) (563 pp, 1.30MB, About PDF) – Pre-publication Version (signed May 4, 2010) – We are providing this unofficial pre-publication copy for public reference. This document has not been published in the Federal Register and is not an official version of the final rule. The official rule will be available here as soon as it is published by the Federal Register Office.
The support materials for this rule and the public comments EPA receives on the proposal are available for public review online at Regulations.gov.