"Recycling Questions Complicate EPA Coal Ash Decision"

"More than a year after 1 billion or so gallons of water polluted by ash spilled from a coal-burning power plant in Tennessee, the Obama administration is struggling to decide whether to declare such waste 'hazardous.'

Slapping a hazardous label on coal ash and other coal byproducts would trigger the writing of a federal disposal standard to replace a patchwork of state regulations. The standard could outright ban wet storage ponds -- such as the one that ruptured in December 2008 in Kingston, Tenn. -- and require landfill liners, leak controls and groundwater monitoring at ash dumps.

The industry also fears that the hazardous designation would kill an ash-recycling enterprise that the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) says generates $5 billion to $10 billion a year in revenue for coal-burning utilities. In 2008, about 60 million tons -- 45 percent of the 136 million tons of coal-combustion ash that the industry generated -- were used to fill abandoned mines, make concrete and shore up eroding highway embankments, according to the American Coal Ash Association."

Patrick Reis reports for Greenwire January 13, 2010.

See Also:

"OIRA Meetings Stir Controversy over Coal Ash Regulation" (OMB Watch)

"U.S. Wants Farmers To Use Coal Waste on Fields" (AP)

"EPA Concerned About Coal Ash Cleanup Costs" (Charleston Post and Courier)

Thursday, January 14, 2010