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.
The landfill at Turk Plant is included in the CCR monitoring program.
Turk Plant has dry handling systems for both its fly ash and bottom ash. The ash is stored in a lined landfill.
- Coal Combustion Residuals Monitoring & Reporting
SWEPCO took a series of groundwater samples at the landfill site. We took some samples before the groundwater passed beneath the ash storage site. (The reports refer to this as up-gradient.) We took other samples after it passed beneath the site (down-gradient). We used the data to establish baseline levels for 21 different substances in the groundwater. It is important to remember that variations in the level of these substances in groundwater are natural and occur for many reasons.
Moving forward, we will use these baselines to help determine if our ash storage sites are impacting the groundwater. We will watch to see whether there are changes in the amount of these substances before and after the groundwater flows beneath the ash storage site. We also will watch whether levels of these substances vary from the baselines we observed.
The initial data at Turk Plant does not show potential groundwater impacts from this storage site. Using appropriate sampling and analysis methods, we found no differences in the amounts of boron, calcium, chloride, fluoride, pH, sulfate and total dissolved solids before and after the groundwater passed beneath the landfill. The rule calls these indicator substances. They are used to determine whether additional analysis is needed.
Baseline sampling in some wells showed two results for radium slightly above the primary drinking water standards. One or more samples showing a higher concentration of a substance, even above a standard, does not mean that local drinking water is unsafe or that there is any impact from the ash storage site.
We are working to understand what the numbers mean. We will do additional monitoring and analysis to determine if there are groundwater impacts from our storage site farther from the immediate area.
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.
SWEPCO monitored the active landfill through six wells.
- Location Restrictions – New
The CCR rule established location restrictions for coal ash storage sites. It requires that storage site locations be evaluated regarding proximity to
- Groundwater aquifers,
- Fault areas,
- Seismic zones and
- Unstable areas (example: presence of quicksand).
AEP and SWEPCO recently completed the required review of location restrictions for Turk Plant’s landfill. This review found that landfill at Turk Plant meets all location restrictions.
- Next Steps
SWEPCO will continue to monitor the landfill twice each year as required by the CCR rule.