Wet Ash Handling
Wet Ash Handling and Ash Pond Dam Inspections
Wet ash handling describes the practice of transporting and storing coal ash in on-site ponds. Duke Energy currently manages 23 active ash ponds in the Carolinas and 26 ash ponds in the Midwest.
Duke Energy’s ash ponds are regulated by the state where they are located. State agencies perform periodic inspections of our facilities in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky.
The regulatory requirements governing ash pond integrity vary from state to state. However, most states require periodic, independent third-party inspections by a licensed professional engineer to ensure the structural integrity of each pond. Even in states where a third-party inspection is not required, Duke Energy is proactively having such inspections performed.
In addition to the third-party inspections, Duke Energy has an internal comprehensive, robust monitoring, maintenance and inspection program in place for all of its ash ponds to ensure their continued structural integrity. This program requires that each of Duke Energy’s ash ponds be inspected by a licensed professional engineer annually.
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspections of Duke Energy Ash Ponds
As part of its response to the failure of Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) ash pond at its Kingston, TN facility, the EPA conducted its own inspection of a number of ash ponds at electric generating facilities across the country using contractor inspectors. The purpose of the EPA inspections was to assess the structural integrity of certain ponds.
Duke Energy remains committed to meeting all state and federal requirements, and to managing its ash ponds in a safe and responsible manner. We are confident that each of our ash ponds has the structural integrity necessary to protect the public and the environment. The EPA contractor inspections and subsequent condition ratings support this conclusion. None of our ash ponds were found to be unsafe.
EPA contractors inspected ash ponds at 24 of Duke Energy’s 26 coal-fired generating facilities. The ponds at these Duke Energy facilities were selected for inspection for various reasons, including meeting the EPA criteria of having either a significant or high hazard potential rating.
Following each inspection, the contractor produced a final report which included the EPA’s evaluation and recommended actions, along with its opinion of the condition of the ponds using an EPA rating system. Duke Energy was required to respond to the EPA with a plan to address each EPA recommendation. Duke Energy takes the findings of the EPA inspections seriously and is taking steps to address each of the recommendations contained in the reports.