Georgia Power continues to make progress on ash pond closure at Plant Branch
Coal ash pond dewatering process to begin in late January 2019
ATLANTA, Dec. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power continues to make progress towards the closure of ash ponds at Plant Branch with the dewatering process scheduled to begin in late January 2019. Dewatering marks a significant step towards completing the site-specific closure process at Plant Branch to completely excavate the ash ponds, then store the ash in a new, lined landfill on plant property.
Since the last megawatt was generated at Plant Branch in March 2015, the power plant and supporting facilities, including the administrative buildings, cooling towers, warehouses and machine shops have been dismantled. The 1,000 ft tall smokestack was safely imploded, and the coal pile has been removed. Coal conveyors and pipe and cable racks were cleaned and removed. Much of the equipment was sold or repurposed, and metals were separated and recycled. Final stabilization and restoration of the primary plant site will be completed in 2019.
The ash pond dewatering plan for Plant Branch that has been approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) identifies the enhanced water treatment system, controls and monitoring that will be used during the process to ensure that the water discharged is protective of water quality standards. The planned on-site lined landfill will be permitted and regulated by the EPD. To date, the company has removed one of the five ash ponds at Plant Branch, completed engineering and feasibility studies and filed permit applications with the EPD for the remaining ash ponds at Plant Branch.
"As we begin the dewatering process at Plant Branch, we are pleased with the progress we have made on our aggressive ash pond closure process throughout the state at all of our plants," said Dr. Mark Berry, vice president of Environmental & Natural Resources for Georgia Power. "We continue to focus on safety and meet all compliance requirements throughout the process to fulfill our longstanding commitment to serve and protect the environment and local communities. We have invested in appropriate water treatment systems to ensure that our dewatering process is protective of the area's lakes and rivers. Throughout the process, clear communication to our customers and the community about our progress also remains a priority."
This updated closure plan allows the company to preserve the option to better reuse the ash in the future and maximizes the potential for future redevelopment or sale of the site. Today, more than 60 percent of the coal ash Georgia Power produces is recycled for various beneficial uses such as Portland cement, concrete and cinder blocks. Communication regarding the closure plan is provided through EPD notifications, advance public notice of permits and updates to local homeowners and local media. The updated plan also maximizes the potential for future redevelopment of the site. To read more about Plant Branch's ash pond closure and dewatering process, click here.
Georgia Power first announced its plans to permanently close all of its ash ponds in September 2015, with initial plans released in June 2016. Today, the company announced the latest progress on its plans to safely close all 29 ash ponds at 11 active and retired coal-fired power plant sites across the state. The company is in the process of completely excavating 19 ash ponds located adjacent to lakes and rivers with the remaining 10 being closed in place using advanced engineering methods and closure technologies.
The company has now substantially completed closure construction activities for seven ash ponds at Plants Hammond, Branch, Kraft, McDonough and Yates. This includes removal of all ash from five ash ponds at Plants Branch, Kraft, McDonough and Yates. Additionally, construction activities are currently underway at multiple sites with closure construction efforts expected to be completed at four additional ash ponds at Plants McDonough, McManus and Yates in 2019.
Last month, Georgia Power completed the submission of 29 Coal Combustion Residuals (CCRs) permit applications as required by the Georgia CCR rule for ash ponds and landfills. These permit applications outlined significant and detailed engineering information about Georgia Power's ash pond closure plans and landfill operations plans. The permitting application process was developed and completed with significant internal and external resources supported by multiple third-party consulting and engineering firms.
In August, the company updated its ash pond closure plans for Plants Bowen and Branch, specifically to increase the number of excavated ponds at both site locations after continued engineering and analysis.
Georgia Power's ash pond closure plans fully comply with the federal Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule, as well as the more stringent requirements of Georgia's state CCR rule. Georgia was one of the first states in the country to develop its own rule regulating management and storage of CCR such as coal ash. The state rule, which goes further than the federal rule, regulates all ash ponds and landfills in the state and includes a comprehensive permitting program through which the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) will approve all actions to ensure ash pond closures are protective of water quality.
Ash pond closures are site-specific and balance multiple factors, such as pond size, location, geology and amount of material; and each closure is certified by a team of independent, professional engineers. In 2016, the company announced that all ash ponds will stop receiving coal ash in three years and the significant construction work necessary to accommodate the dry-handling of ash is on track to be completed in 2019.
Protecting Water Quality Throughout Ash Pond Closure Process
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For further information: Georgia Power Media Relations, (404) 506-7676 or (800) 282-1696, www.georgiapower.com