Duke permits on-site coal waste landfill at W.S. Lee in South Carolina

Duke Energy Carolinas has started the permitting process to safely manage coal ash at the W.S. Lee Station in Belton, S.C., by constructing a fully lined on-site landfill, said parent Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) on Dec. 15.

It will be located on existing plant property and will provide a permanent storage solution for approximately 2.2 million tons of coal ash remaining at the site. Duke Energy Carolinas had announced in 2014 its intention to excavate coal ash from two ash basins and a structural fill area on the property.

“This proposed landfill continues to advance our strategy to safely close ash basins and manage coal ash across our service area,” said John Elnitsky, Duke Energy senior vice president of ash basin strategy. “Our preference is to store coal ash at or near our plant sites, when possible. This landfill will reduce impacts to the local community and will provide a safe and efficient solution for the permanent storage of the remaining ash at the W.S. Lee Station.”

The landfill will feature multiple layers of synthetic and natural barriers. Coal ash will be stored dry in the landfill with a protective capping system installed on top – effectively containing the ash and separating it from surrounding soil and groundwater. Extensive groundwater monitoring will ensure the landfill operates as designed and the local environment remains protected, Duke added.

“Our first priority is ensuring the continued safety of our neighbors and our environment,” said Elnitsky. “We’re using a science-based plan, industry-proven technology and advanced engineering to site and construct this fully lined landfill.”

Duke Energy Carolinas is currently excavating about 1.4 million tons of coal ash from one inactive ash basin and an ash fill area at the W.S. Lee site and transporting the material to a fully-lined landfill in Homer, Ga. This work will manage about 44% of the coal ash at the site.

In addition to the coal ash management at W.S. Lee, the company is also constructing a combined-cycle natural gas plant at the site expected to be operational in 2017. The original steam plant continues to operate one unit powered by natural gas.

Duke Energy said it continues to make progress toward safely closing ash basins across the Carolinas. The company is currently moving ash at the Asheville Plant, Dan River Steam Station, Riverbend Steam Station, Rogers Energy Complex (formerly known as the Cliffside Steam Station), Sutton Plant and W.S. Lee Steam Station to a variety of approved on- and off-site fully lined storage solutions.

The company announced in April 2015 that Duke Energy Progress will pursue an on-site lined landfill to manage ash at the Robinson Plant in Hartsville, S.C. Duke Energy continues to evaluate basins at other sites and will base recommended closure plans on science and public input.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK.

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.