Coal Combustion Residuals

Understanding the Final Rule and Next Steps for Electric Utilities

In April 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its final coal combustion residuals (CCR) rule. The rule regulates the disposal of CCR from active electric generating units as nonhazardous waste by establishing minimal national criteria for landfills and surface impoundments. This rule becomes effective as owners and operators have historically lacked rigorous management of CCR sites. This white paper outlines a programmatic approach to build an effective compliance strategy and organizational capabilities to ensure proper and effective management of CCR sites.

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Coal Combustion Residuals: Understanding the Final Rule and Next Steps for Electric Utilities

    • November 2015

EPA Publishes Its Long-Awaited Final CCR Rule

    • EPA publishes its long-awaited final Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule, but spares CCRs hazardous treatment
      Originally proposed in July 2010 and previewed in December 2014, EPA formally published its final CCR rule in April 2015
      The rule regulates the disposal of CCRs from active electric generating units as nonhazardous waste under Subtitle D of the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act. The rule becomes effective October 14, 2015
      Hazardous waste classification would have increased costs by an estimated $10B to $15B per year
      The final rule establishes minimal national criteria for CCR landfills and CCR surface impoundments. Sites must retrofit or close if they fail to meet criteria established by the new rule. Specific criteria include:
      Location restrictions
      Structural integrity requirements
      Liner design criteria
      Groundwater monitoring and corrective action requirements
      Operating criteria (e.g., fugitive dust)
      Closure and post-closure care requirements
      Recording, notification, and internet posting requirements
    • Background
  • In order to comply, owners and operators will need to:
    Develop a formal compliance strategy and execute plans to meet requirements by the EPA deadlines in a way that adequately demonstrates compliance
    Establish organizational infrastructure to govern and oversee ongoing compliance responsibilities, thereby fixing the lack of organizational oversight that led to the current situation and need for EPA rule

Develop Compliance Strategy and Organizational Capabilities

    • Develop an effective CCR compliance strategy: quickly fix the problem and/or demonstrate compliance
      A CCR compliance strategy should use the following process to develop a compliance strategy (see figure to the right)
      The compliance strategy should result in a master strategy for each site that:
      Identifies all planned activities to address long-term ash handling and storage requirements
      Identifies key coal combustion product activities and associated timing, anticipated ash production levels based on the generation plan, facility capacity limits, and amounts planned for marketing
      Provides an effective communication tool for plant-level strategy at a glance and a mechanism for issue and/or gap identification in planned project dates
    • Develop organizational infrastructure: fix the underlying gaps in oversight that could lead to problems down the road
      In addition to a compliance strategy, organizational capabilities must be developed to ensure effective, ongoing oversight by using the following steps:
    • Overview

Approach for Integrated Plan Creation

  • Created in parallel with the analysis and decision process to facilitate robust plan creation
    Provides a clear understanding of what work has to be completed and when
    Identifies dependencies between actions to improve project management
    Enables more effective control of spend
  • Reports the status of progress on the overall project to internal and external stakeholders
    Identifies key risks and hurdles to the success of the project
    KPI-based reporting format:
    On-going risk
    Factor of safety
    High hazard
    Limited CCP capacity
    Master plan
    Milestones achieved
    Work-off curve
    Planned and upcoming action items
  • Establishes current state as basis for planning
    Future state vision based on the resolution of critical assumptions and risks
    Replaces current working assumptions with validated plans and actions
  • In Focus: Developing an Effective Compliance Strategy
  • Current State and Overall Long-Term Strategy
  • Detailed Integration Plan
  • Reporting
  • Preliminary High-Level Plan
  • Identifies current assumptions and risks in the plan for analysis and validation
    Illustrates the current state picture site-by-site and company-wide
    Develops initial critical-path list for integrated plan creation

Overview of Master Strategies Document

    • Potential Improvements
      CCP Streams (charcoal circles)
      Amount produced
      Generation Considerations (assumptions)
      Unit shutdowns
      CCP mixture (e.g., % ash and % gypsum from scrubber)
      Marketing Plans (green boxes)
      Annual amount
      Disposal Plans (yellow and orange boxes)
      Disposal facility type (e.g., pond, dry stack, landfill)
      Capacity of disposal site (FY)
      Closure date of facility
      Future Clean Air Plans (2015 installations)
      Coal Mix
    • Potential Improvements
      Developed for each plant to identify all planned activities related to addressing long-term ash handling and storage requirements
      Identifies key CCP activities and associated timing, anticipated ash production levels based on the generation plan, facility capacity limits, and marketing plan amounts
      Effective communication tool for the plant-level strategy at a glance and a mechanism for issue and/or gap identification in planned project dates
      Must be maintained and aligned with capital plan and project schedules
    • In Focus: Developing an Effective Compliance Strategy (Contd)
  • Schematic View of the Overall Plan for Each Site (Including Disposition Strategy and High-Level Timing)

CCR Expertise

    • ScottMadden Capabilities
  • Large Federal Utility
    Coal Combustion Product Remediation
    ScottMadden supported a progress assessment of the coal combustion product (CCP) remediation efforts being performed by a large federal utility focused on converting all coal generation ash ponds from wet- to dry-storage facilities. ScottMaddens focus included identifying critical tasks associated with all CCP projects and defining high-level CCP strategies for all fossil sites. ScottMadden also assisted with the identification and integration of cross-team dependencies (e.g., environmental operations and maintenance, capital projects group, etc.)Large Investor-Owned Utility
    Coal Combustion Product Change Management Support
    ScottMadden assisted a large investor-owned utility build a CCP department by developing a comprehensive training plan and implementation plan. The plan was designed to ensure that training materials, venues, and schedules ensured that personnel were trained prior to assumption of operational control. The training plan was role based and customized to the specific positions in the organization. In addition, ScottMadden developed an implementation plan for training activities and communications.

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Contributing Authors

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