Duke unveils plan for permanent ash solution at retired Robinson coal plant

Coal ash from the Robinson Plant in Hartsville, S.C., of Duke Energy Progress will be excavated and relocated to an on-site, lined landfill, completing parent Duke Energy‘s (NYSE: DUK) comprehensive strategy for its two South Carolina coal facilities.

“Protecting groundwater, public health and the environment is our guide when it comes to closing ash basins,” said John Elnitsky, senior vice president of ash basin strategy, in an April 30 statement. “The science tells us that excavating ash from the site and relocating it to a new fully lined landfill is the most reasonable and prudent way to accomplish that.”

In a filing to state regulators, the company said it will seek to permit a new, state-of-the-art landfill on its Darlington Plant property, which is a combustion turbine facility immediately adjacent to Robinson.

Duke noted that utilities have several options for closing ash basins, including:

  • safely reusing the material instead of soil for concrete or as structural fill;
  • consolidating the material, capping it with a protective barrier and protecting groundwater; or
  • excavating and relocating it to an on- or off-site landfill.

“We’ve used sound science to test various closure options to develop a custom strategy for the Robinson site,” Elnitsky said. “We’ll apply that kind of site-specific approach to our other ash basins to ensure we recommend safe, smart solutions.”

The company will develop a detailed closure plan and submit it to state regulators by late November. Coal ash will be stored dry in the landfill, which will feature multiple layers of synthetic and natural barriers.

The site is home to Duke Energy Progress’s 724-MW Robinson Nuclear Plant, and also the 177-MW Robinson Plant coal unit, which was retired in 2012. About 4.2 million tons of ash is located at the site, with 3.9 million tons in an ash basin and 331,000 tons located in a fill area. Ash from both locations will be directed to the on-site landfill.

This builds on the company’s recently announced on-site landfills at its Dan River and Sutton plants in North Carolina.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.