EPA OKs use of coal ash in concrete, wallboard

Agency says application will advance sustainability by saving resources.

February 10, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its evaluation of the two largest beneficial uses of encapsulated coal combustion residuals (CCR or coal ash): for use in concrete as a substitute for portland cement, and the use of flue gas desulfurization gypsum as a substitute for mined gypsum in wallboard.

The EPA says that its evaluation concluded that the beneficial use of encapsulated CCRs in concrete and wallboard is appropriate because they are comparable to virgin materials or below the agency’s health and environmental benchmarks. The EPA adds that the two uses account for nearly half of the total amount of coal ash that is beneficially used.

“The protective reuse of coal ash advances sustainability by saving valuable resources, reducing costs and lessening environmental impacts, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

In evaluating these two beneficial uses, EPA used its newly developed Methodology for Evaluating Encapsulated Beneficial Uses of Coal Combustion Residuals.

The methodology is intended to assist states and other interested parties with evaluating and making informed determinations about encapsulated beneficial uses of CCRs.

Coal ash is formed when coal is burned in boilers that generate steam for power generation and industrial applications. Slightly more than half of coal ash is disposed of in dry landfills and surface impoundments. The remainder of coal ash is used beneficially, as well as in mining applications.

More information on the methodology: www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/imr/ccps/benfuse.htm