Simultaneously with the effective date of the first national regulations for the safe disposal of coal combustion residuals from coal-fired power plants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7 on Oct. 19 gave conditional approval to Kansas’ plan to implement the rule’s provisions.
“We applaud the State of Kansas for their leadership in protecting human health and the environment by ensuring the responsible management of coal ash,” said EPA Region 7 Acting Administrator Mark Hague in an Oct. 22 statement. “Kansas has shown us the importance of integrating these protections into their State Solid Waste Management Plans.”
The coal ash disposal rule establishes regulations to safeguard communities from coal ash impoundment failures and to prevent groundwater contamination and air emissions from coal ash disposal. The rule will best achieve its protections where state partners adopt regulations, as necessary, which are at least as stringent as the federal requirements and submit new or revised solid waste management plans to EPA for approval. An approved solid waste management plan that reflects the new coal ash requirements has significant benefits, said EPA, including:
- improving the ability of coal ash facility owners and operators to comply and to achieve the protections of the rule;
- allowing public participation in decisions that affect coal ash units in their communities; and
- signaling EPA’s judgment that the state coal ash regulations meet or exceed the minimum federal requirements.
“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment appreciates EPA’s prompt review and approval of our Kansas plan, which is an integral part of our comprehensive compliance monitoring program at all permitted solid waste facilities,” said John Mitchell, director of KDHE’s Division of Environment. “An EPA-approved plan demonstrates to our electric utilities and all interested parties that KDHE’s permitting and inspection activities will ensure that coal combustion residuals are properly managed in Kansas.”
Kansas’ Solid Waste Management Plan incorporates by reference the federal coal ash disposal regulations. Kansas will use their permit authority to implement the requirements governing the disposal of coal ash until regulations are officially adopted in the state.