Coal Combustion Residuals Monitoring & Reporting
In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new rule addressing the handling, storage and disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs). CCRs are the materials that remain after coal is burned.
AEP recently completed the first steps in the new groundwater monitoring program under this rule. Three Cardinal Plant ash storage sites are included in the CCR monitoring program:
- The bottom ash pond,
- The fly ash reservoir and
- The landfill.
AEP took a series of groundwater samples at the boundaries of all three ash storage sites. We took some samples before the groundwater passed beneath the ash storage sites. (The reports refer to this as up-gradient.) We took other samples after it passed beneath the sites (down-gradient). We used the data to establish baseline levels for 21 different substances in the groundwater. It is important to remember that variations in the level of these substances in groundwater are natural and occur for many reasons.
Moving forward, we will use these baselines to help determine if our ash storage sites are impacting the groundwater. We will watch to see whether there are changes in the amount of these substances before and after the groundwater flows beneath the ash storage site. We also will watch whether levels of these substances vary from the baselines we observed.
The initial data at Cardinal Plant show potential groundwater impacts very close to our storage sites.
Using appropriate sampling and analysis methods we found differences in the amounts of boron, chloride and fluoride in certain wells before and after the groundwater passed beneath the storage sites. The rule calls these indicator substances. They are used to determine whether additional analysis is needed.
Baseline sampling in some wells showed one or more results for arsenic, cadmium and radium above primary drinking water standards. One or more samples showing a higher concentration of a substance even above a standard does not mean that local drinking water is unsafe or that there is any impact from the ash storage site.
As of March 1, 2018, AEP Generation Resources Inc. no longer operates Cardinal Power Plant. CCR-related compliance documents will be posted and maintained on the publicly available website of Ohio Electric Cooperatives – Buckeye Power.
Here’s how AEP conducted the monitoring:
- The bottom ash pond - five wells,
- The fly ash reservoir - 23 wells, and
- The landfill - 16 wells.
All three storage sites are in active use.
Cardinal Plant sells more than 80 percent of the gypsum it produces through its processes to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. This gypsum, considered a CCR, can be used in the manufacture of dry wall, cement and soil amendments.