As part of our transition to cleaner energy, we are also creating less waste and continuing to manage wastes responsibly at our facilities. The generation of new coal ash — a byproduct of burning coal — is being eliminated over time as we retire coal units or convert them to different, cleaner fuels.
For those stations that currently burn coal or have in the past, managing the ash happens in one of three ways: It is deposited in landfills, it is recycled or it is stored in ash ponds.
For four stations, coal ash was managed by using water to convey the waste into treatment ponds, which enabled the ash to settle in the ponds, and the water to be decanted and released. In 2015 we began implementing plans to close the ash ponds. Those plans included inspections, monitoring, removing and treating water from the ponds, and — for over half of the ponds — removing ash. In addition, a study was completed in 2017 to ensure that stakeholders had information about various options for closure — including the safety, environmental and community effects of various options.
We intend to close 11 ponds at these four locations, and in 2018 began the process of permitting closure for six of the ash ponds where ash was already removed: four ponds at Possum Point Power Station and two ponds at Bremo Power Station. Once permits are obtained, these ponds are expected to be permanently closed by the end of 2019.
All of Dominion Energy’s ash ponds will be closed in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local environmental regulations and necessary permits. Groundwater monitoring and reporting will continue even after the ponds are closed.
In addition, an evaluation is underway to explore options for recycling ash that has been in ponds for decades. This will provide stakeholders with additional information on Dominion Energy’s efforts to dispose of or recycle ash in a responsible manner. A request has been issued for ash recycling proposals from interested suppliers focusing on ash at these four stations. The proposals were evaluated and the results reported in late 2018. At the five stations that continue to burn coal, the ash is either recycled or landfilled. At Chesterfield Power Station, the ash-handling process was converted to dry handling, and a new state-of-the-art lined landfill was constructed to handle future ash generated at the station that is not recycled. It began operation in November, 2017.
Repurposing Coal Ash
In the spirit of recycling, we continue to explore innovative ways to reuse newly generated coal combustion byproducts for the creation of drywall, roofing shingles, concrete, cement and even bowling balls.
In 2017 year we recycled more than 500,000 tons of coal ash material — the equivalent, by weight, of five aircraft carriers. This amount is lower than the 700,000 tons recycled last year in part because the amount of material generated was reduced. In 2017, about 22 percent of Dominion Energy’s coal ash was beneficially reused.
To learn more about how we repurpose coal ash, click here.