CCR Rule Compliance Data and Information
On April 17, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule for management and disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCRs) from electric utilities.
In 2016, Alabama Power announced plans to close, dewater and consolidate coal ash facilities at six generating plants, under the final rule. The closure process is being conducted in compliance with all regulations.
Subpart D, Part 257 applies to owners and operators of new and existing landfills and surface impoundments, including lateral expansions of such units that dispose or otherwise engage in solid waste management of CCRs generated from combustion of coal in electric power generation.
This subpart does not apply to CCR landfills that have ceased receiving CCRs or to electric facilities that have ceased producing electricity prior to October 19, 2015. The EPA vacated part 40 C.F.R. § 257.100 of the CCR rule and issued the CCR “Extension Rule” on October 4th, 2016. The Extension Rule extends compliance deadlines under the CCR rule for units impacted by the vacatur of 40 C.F.R. § 257.100.
Get the Facts:
Alabama Power’s highest priority is the safety of customers and their communities. Company employees live and work in these communities, too.
- Alabama Power has operated ash facilities for decades as part of environmental controls. The company has maintained a rigorous ash facility inspection program for more than 40 years, including detailed dam safety inspections following the same standards applied to the dams at the company’s hydroelectric reservoirs.
- Every one of the company’s ash facilities has received a thorough structural inspection through EPA and received the highest rating available for safe and reliable operation.
Alabama Power continues to make measurable progress toward dewatering, closing and consolidating materials at ash facilities at the plants, as announced in 2016. The closure process is being conducted in compliance with all regulations.
- Alabama Power expects all facilities to stop receiving ash within a year.
The company is working to maintain a reliable generation fleet while conducting the closure process as efficiently as possible. Alabama Power is working to close these facilities efficiently and, most importantly, safely.
- Alabama Power is installing state-of-the-art dry ash handling and wastewater treatment facilities designed to meet or do better than all environmental standards and replace the function of ash facilities.
- The company worked with professionally licensed, third-party engineers to evaluate and identify the safest and most effective closure plans.
- Closures are site specific and involve complex processes that balance multiple factors such as plant location, size and amount of material.
The procedure being used to close the ash facilities is called close in place, which EPA recognizes as safe and effective. Alabama Power will provide regular reports to regulatory agencies and will post information for the public.
- It includes dewatering, capping and implementing robust flood control measures.
- Alabama Power also will move material away from the river and ultimately reduce a facility’s footprint by as much as half.
- CCRs, including ash and gypsum, can be safely recycled for a variety of beneficial uses – such as in cement, concrete, wallboard and agricultural applications – and Alabama Power continues to make these opportunities a priority.
- Currently, the company beneficially reuses almost half of the ash and gypsum material in those applications.
- Ash is not regulated as hazardous.
A part of the EPA’s CCR rule required Alabama Power – along with all other electric utilities across the country that manage coal ash facilities – to analyze multiple groundwater samples from around coal-fired generating plants and report the results March 2.
Alabama Power recently completed analyzing multiple groundwater samples taken from more than 150 locations at Plants Barry, Gaston, Gorgas, Greene County and Miller.
- The initial results, from a process involving experts from Alabama Power’s nationally accredited environmental lab, are available on the company’s website and have been proactively communicated to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
- The testing of groundwater around the facilities will continue for 30 years, long after they are closed, in compliance with state and federal rules. Alabama Power will work with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management on the closure plans.
Alabama Power is committed to maintaining open communication with the communities. The company has proactively shared information with regulators, stakeholders, local governments, the community and media, and will continue to do so.
Alabama Power has a strong record of working to protect the environment. The company has a rigorous compliance program designed to always meet or do better than the standards set by regulations.
- The company has testified before the PSC that compliance costs of the new CCR rule would be upwards of $1 billion.
- Over the past 15 years, the company has invested more than $4 billion on environmental controls at power plants, resulting in significant reductions in emissions. The company also works with agencies and nonprofit partners to improve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species and conserve natural resources.
- Alabama Power has reduced the use of coal by about 35 percent since 2007, and reduced ash production by approximately 40 percent. The company’s current energy mix is about 50 percent coal, down from nearly 80 percent in the late 1990s.