Construction Considerations Are Key in Closure Planning for Coal Ash Ponds

December 1, 2014

Mark Johnson, PG and Kent Nilsson, PE

When faced with a variety of options for coal ash pond closure, use a holistic approach rather than choosing what seems to be the quickest or cheapest on paper.

Closure and remediation solutions for coal ash ponds, or impoundments, vary greatly. Assuming the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgates the expected proposed Subtitle D regulations, technical options are plentiful, and the vast majority will be viable for most sites. Among the choices are capping, dewatering and/or stabilizing, consolidating into a new landfill, disposing off site, converting to wetlands, or any combination of these options.

There is no one-size-fits-all option, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of each. This is especially important if the planning design and construction activities occur at an open and active facility. A successful closure approach accounts for the size of the pond, dewatering requirements and methods, final site use, integration of any remediation efforts, constructability, site layout, and long-term costs.

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