SCE&G, Riverkeeper reach deal on dry ash storage

SCANA (NYSE: SCG) subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation announced an agreement Aug. 20 designed to speed the electric utility’s ongoing transition to dry ash storage at its coal-fired power plants.

The settlement was reached in a suit brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) regarding ash storage at the 700-MW Wateree station in Eastover, S.C. The settlement provides additional commitments to the process and timetables established in an October 2011 memorandum of agreement (MOA) between SCE&G and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“From our voluntary agreement with DHEC a year ago to our affirmation of that agreement in our settlement with the Catawba Riverkeeper today, SCE&G continues to demonstrate its commitment to efficiently and effectively decommission wet ash storage facilities at all of our coal-fired stations,” Jim Landreth, vice president for SCE&G Fossil and Hydro Operations, said in a statement.

“This is an historic agreement,” said SELC Senior Attorney Frank Holleman. “SCE&G has bound itself to remove its coal ash from the impoundments near the Wateree River, has accelerated its schedule for removal, and has committed itself to improved handling and storage of coal ash.”

Specifically, the settlement contains a binding agreement to remove all the coal ash now stored in impoundments at the Wateree Station to lined landfill storage away from the Wateree River or recycling of the ash, and also accelerates the timetable for the commitment SCE&G made in the MOA for the complete removal of coal ash.

The SELC had brought suit on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper against SCE&G under the South Carolina Pollution Control Act.

“We have essentially moved to dry ash storage at five of our six [coal] plants,” an SCE&G spokesperson told GenerationHub. The 420-MW Canadys plant near Walterboro, S.C. is the only coal plant in the SCE&G system that currently lacks dry ash storage – and plans are underway to install dry ash storage there, the official said.

The just-announced deal with Riverkeeper essentially puts the final touches on the earlier memorandum in 2011, the SCE&G spokesperson said.

In the MOA, SCE&G laid out its plan to remove the ash from the ash ponds and transition to dry ash handling and storage at the plant site, the company said in a statement. Using the experience of the past year since the signing of the MOA, SCE&G made refinements and provided further definition to the plan that resulted in the settlement agreement. The settlement provides that 240,000 tons of coal ash will be removed from the wet storage facility in the first three years and provides for complete removal of coal ash by December 31, 2020.

In 2010, SCE&G opened a modern, on-site dry storage facility, which was the first step toward decommissioning the ash ponds, the company said.

As for Wateree, since 2000 SCE&G has major environmental upgrades to the plant. According to its website, baghouses, selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment, sulfur dioxide scrubbers and a closed-cycle cooling water system have been installed in the past dozen years.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.