BALTIMORE, MD (November 25, 2008) – Today the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) announced that regulations establishing new requirements for the disposal of coal combustion byproducts, including fly ash, and the use of coal combustion byproducts for mine reclamation will take effect on December 1, 2008. MDE also announced plans to propose regulations defining beneficial uses of coal combustion byproducts in 2009. Coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) are non-combustible materials generated from burning coal. The new regulations regulate disposal.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working on a proposal to regulate the disposal and use of Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCBs) since 2000. MDE determined that it was necessary, however, to develop this new set of requirements to protect public health.
Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson said: “Regulations to more effectively control the disposal of coal combustion byproducts and use of these byproducts at mine reclamation sites in a way that protects public health and our drinking water are critical. This proposal accomplishes that.”
The regulations require the following:
- Disposal facilities must meet all of the same standards required for industrial solid waste landfills. This includes leachate (rainwater mixed with waste) collection, groundwater monitoring, the use of liners, and routine analysis of CCBs.
- As a solid waste disposal facility, a CCB disposal facility must conform to all local zoning and land-use requirements as well as each county’s ten-year solid waste management plan.
- For coal and non-coal mine reclamation sites, the use of CCBs in non-coal mines must meet standards similar to those required for industrial solid waste landfills. Standards for coal mine reclamation will ensure that only alkaline CCBs are used.
- For both disposal and mine reclamation sites, dust control measures must be implemented and post closure monitoring and maintenance must be performed. MDE may also impose other requirements in addition to the regulations as part of the permitting process for new CCB disposal or mine reclamation sites.
- New annual reporting requirements for generators of CCBs covering how the material was recently used or disposed, as well as future plans for disposal or use.
While MDE is moving forward with these regulations, full implementation of the new permitting program will not occur until after a funding source is identified. A bill that would have funded the new effort with a modest per ton fee on CBBs generated did not pass through during the last legislative session. A similar proposal is expected again this year.
Energy companies that burn coal generate CCBs, which include fly ash and bottom ash (“coal ash”), boiler slag, fluidized bed combustion ash, and flue gas desulphurization sludge. Approximately 2 million tons of coal ash is generated annually from Maryland plants. Disposal of fly ash and bottom ash occurs in surface impoundments or landfills. Beneficial uses of coal ash include mine reclamation, structural fill applications, or as a substitute for cement in the production of concrete.
In 2007, the Department assessed Constellation Power Source Generation, Inc. and BBSS, Inc. with a $1 million penalty and ordered both parties to clean up contamination from a fly ash disposal site in Anne Arundel County. In addition to the penalty, Constellation and BBSS were required to remediate groundwater contamination, replace drinking water supplies in the vicinity of the site, and monitor groundwater conditions.
Under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, the Department of the Environment has made enforcing Maryland’s environmental laws a top priority. In addition, MDE is working to protect Maryland residents and the environment by enacting new regulations to reduce pollution from vehicle emissions, agriculture, stormwater runoff, as well as continuing to reduce pollution from wastewater treatment plants and septic systems. The agency has also worked to provide a road map to reduce greenhouse gases through the Maryland Climate Change Commission’s Climate Action Plan released in August 2008.
To view the proposed regulations and fact sheets on coal combustion byproducts visit: http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Marylander/PublicHealth/Pages/ccbs_regs.aspx