- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Millions of cubic yards of coal ash that was supposed to be used for construction projects are being stored on private sites across North Carolina, posing a health risk to communities.

Private ash sites were originally proposed for construction use, such as building an airstrip or a parking lot. But construction didn’t always take place and now the sites have more coal ash than they could use.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports (https://bit.ly/1nySAhw) that there are more than 70 ash sites in the state, holding about 11 million cubic yards of ash.

But six sites contain nearly a quarter of the ash, which is stored in unlined pits, largely unmonitored for potential groundwater contamination.

Over the years, the state environmental agency has cited some of those sites for violations, including being placed too close to water sources and creating dust clouds.

“When they said they had an end use, they didn’t have an end use - it was a form of disposal,” said Ellen Lorschneider, planning and programs branch head of the solid waste section at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

In the wake of a Feb. 2 massive coal ash spill at a Duke Energy plant in Eden that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge, attention has been focused on the state’s 33 ash pits spread across the state. That ash is stored in unlined pits next to rivers and lakes.

The coal ash stored at structural fill sites is starting to receive attention.

Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed coal ash plan includes a temporary moratorium on the use of coal as structural fill in amounts of 5,000 cubic yards or more.

McCrory’s proposal would also start regulating structural fill as landfilled solid waste. It would require state permits, leak-proof liners and groundwater monitoring for structural fill sites, none of which has been required in past years.

The structural fill sites were mostly built after North Carolina adopted regulations in 1994 to promote the “beneficial reuse” of coal ash as structural fill. The use of ash for construction fill is widely accepted and encouraged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Information from: The News & Observer, https://www.newsobserver.com

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Information from: The News & Observer, https://www.newsobserver.com


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