Tampa Electric plans CCR rule compliance at Big Bend coal plant

Tampa Electric applied Oct. 15 to the Florida Public Service Commission for approval of the company’s proposed environmental compliance program – Coal Combustion Residuals Compliance Program (“CCR Program”) – for cost recovery through the Environmental Cost Recovery Clause.

In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule. The effective date of the rule is Oct. 19, by which time Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station will be required to begin compliance with the rule’s requirements. The rule establishes minimum criteria for the safe disposal of CCR in landfills and surface impoundments.

In 2015 and 2016, Tampa Electric’s CCR Rule compliance activities at Big Bend will include placing fugitive emissions dust control plans in place, increasing the frequency of inspections, installing signage, assessing dike integrity and installing new groundwater monitoring wells at regulated CCR management units. These activities will cause Tampa Electric to incur incremental O&M expenses beginning in the fourth quarter of 2015 and continuing for the remaining operational life of Big Bend Station.

Several engineering evaluations are required to demonstrate the structural and environmental integrity of the existing regulated surface impoundments at Big Bend Station. These efforts will cause the company to incur additional O&M expenses in 2016. Other engineering efforts will be required to evaluate alternatives for design of new or modified facilities to ensure future compliance with the CCR Rule. These efforts will begin in early 2016.

The other significant expense which the company expects to incur in 2016 is related to two existing CCR units at Big Bend Station which are regulated under the rule:

  • The former Slag Fines Settling Pond was partially remediated and converted into a stormwater management pond in 2009. Some slag fines were left in the pond under an agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). However, because the pond still contains slag residuals and continues to impound water, this pond is defined as an “Inactive Impoundment” and is subject to the requirements of the CCR Rule. The rule exempts such impoundments from future regulation if they are cleaned out and closed within three years of the publication date of the rule, or prior to April 17, 2018. Tampa Electric must declare its intent to perform this work by Dec. 17, 2015. Therefore, the company is proposing to remove all residual CCRs (slag) from the pond and install a liner to prevent future infiltration of stormwater. The work will be performed in 2016 and 2017, after which the pond will no longer be regulated under the rule.
  • The second CCR unit for which capital improvements are needed is the North Gypsum Stackout area next to the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) process at Big Bend. This area will need to be modified to meet the CCR Rule’s requirements for secondary containment of CCR products and runoff controls. Otherwise, the area will be regulated as a landfill. The improvements will include addition of containment walls and a sump pump and piping to convey water to the existing FGD transfer sump. The water will then be pumped from the FGD sump directly to the existing Solids Separation Unit to be clarified and recycled so as to eliminate contact of runoff or gypsum product with the environment. These modifications are planned for 2016 and 2017.
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.