In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new rule addressing the handling, storage and disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs). CCRs are the materials that remain after coal is burned.
Two Flint Creek Plant ash storage sites are included in the CCR monitoring program:
- The primary bottom ash pond and
- The landfill.
Both storage sites are in active use. SWEPCO is working on a plan to close the primary bottom ash pond. Flint Creek Plant has a dry fly ash handling system and the fly ash is stored in a lined landfill. The landfill has an "intermediate" liner. In 2017, Flint Creek Plant put more than 64,000 tons of CCR material to beneficial reuse.
- 2018 Groundwater Monitoring Report & Statistical Analysis - New
In 2018, SWEPCO continued its groundwater monitoring activities around Flint Creek Plant’s coal ash storage sites. We analyzed this data relative to EPA drinking water standards and/or with groundwater protection standards.
Analysis of this data by an independent third party indicates that these coal ash storage sites are not impacting groundwater quality.
- Coal Combustion Residuals Monitoring & Reporting
Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) completed the first steps in the new groundwater monitoring program under this rule.
SWEPCO took a series of groundwater samples at the boundaries of both ash storage sites. We took some samples before the groundwater passed beneath the ash storage sites. (The reports refer to this as up-gradient.) We took other samples after it passed beneath the sites (down-gradient). We used the data to establish baseline levels for 21 different substances in the groundwater. Moving forward, we will use these baselines to help determine if our ash storage sites are impacting the groundwater.
It is important to remember that variations in the level of these substances in groundwater are natural and occur for many reasons.
The initial data at Flint Creek Plant showed potential groundwater impacts very close to our storage sites. Additional monitoring indicated that these sites are not impacting groundwater.
We proactively reached out and met with plant neighbors and community leaders to answer questions about the data collected so far and to discuss next steps.
- Alternate Source Reviews
An independent third party successfully completed an Alternate Source Demonstration for the primary bottom ash pond at Flint Creek Plant. The successful demonstration identifies other factors that could impact sampling results as the groundwater passes the CCR storage sites. The plant will continue sampling groundwater at the primary bottom ash pond site to determine any future need for additional monitoring.
- Location Restrictions
The CCR rule established location restrictions for coal ash storage sites. It requires that storage site locations be evaluated regarding proximity to groundwater aquifers, wetlands, fault areas, seismic zones and unstable areas (example: presence of quicksand).
AEP and SWEPCO recently completed the required review of location restrictions for Flint Creek Plant’s CCR storage sites. This review found:
- The Flint Creek primary bottom ash pond is separated from the uppermost aquifer by less than the five feet specified by the rule. It does meet the other four restrictions.
- The Flint Creek landfill meets all location restrictions.
- Next Steps
- SWEPCO will continue to collect samples at all of these wells twice each year.
- We will stop placing CCR material in the primary bottom ash pond as soon as an alternate storage option is available. We then will begin closure activities.
- If, in the future, SWEPCO determines that an ash storage site is impacting the groundwater, we will seek public input as we develop a mitigation plan to address these impacts.
- Primary Bottom Ash Pond