Atlanta-based Georgia Power announced Oct. 6 that the company has made progress on its plan to safely close all 29 ash ponds at 11 active and retired coal-fired power plant sites across the state. The company is in the process of excavating 19 ash ponds with the remaining 10 being closed in place using engineering methods and closure technologies.
According to the company, significant closure progress has been made with construction activities completed or underway at 19 ash ponds.
"As Georgia Power continues to make significant progress on our plans to safely close all of our ash ponds, our focus remains on protecting the environment and our surrounding communities," Mark Berry, vice president of Environmental and Natural Resources for Georgia Power, says. "As part of our ash pond closure efforts, Georgia Power is driving innovation to identify new ways to reuse coal ash that are beneficial to our customers and communities, including opportunities for recycling stored coal ash from existing ash ponds."
Georgia Power progress milestones include: all ash ponds have stopped receiving coal ash, dewatering is now underway at six plant sites, more than 85 percent of currently produced ash and gypsum is being recycled, the first large-scale beneficial reuse project using stored ash in existing ash ponds is underway, and the company now has more than 550 wells to monitor groundwater quality.
This year, Georgia Power announced plans at its retired Plant Mitchell site near Albany, Georgia, to remove stored coal ash for beneficial reuse, marking the first time that stored ash from existing ash ponds at sites in Georgia have been excavated for beneficial reuse as part of an ash pond closure project. Over the next several years, approximately 2 million tons of ash are planned to be removed from the on-site ash ponds to help create Portland cement, which is used to make concrete. Through July, approximately 11,100 tons of ash have already been removed for this purpose.
Georgia Power is also requesting proposals for the beneficial reuse of coal ash stored at active and retired coal-fired power plants across the state. While Georgia Power already recycles more than 85 percent of all ash and gypsum (including more than 90 percent of fly ash) it produces from current operations, the company is seeking to identify opportunities for the beneficial reuse of stored coal ash. Today, most of the coal ash Georgia Power produces is recycled for various beneficial uses, such as Portland cement, concrete and cinder blocks. The company is committed to seeking new beneficial reuse opportunities for the coal ash stored at active and retired plants while continuing to permanently and safely close all of its ash ponds around the state.