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CCP Beneficial Use Markets Will Decline With Hazardous Waste Classification

by on September 21, 2010

Story written by Rachel Hammer

As one of the nation’s largest consumers of coal, AEP also is a major producer of the coal combustion products fly ash, bottom ash and boiler slag. The company also produces large quantities of calcium sulfite and synthetic gypsum from the flue gas desulfurization (FGD or scrubber) systems that remove sulfur dioxide from a coal-fired plant’s air emissions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed three options to regulate the handling of these coal combustion products (CCPs). One option would classify the products as hazardous waste when disposed of yet permits continuing the sale of CCPs for beneficial use. Two nonhazardous waste options differ in their requirements around existing disposal facilities.

AEP supports additional regulations for coal ash that will help protect human health and the environment by ensuring the structural integrity of ash ponds and water quality. EPA’s proposal to regulate coal ash as a nonhazardous material under its Subtitle “D prime” proposal will give the EPA all the authority it needs to deal with problem sites without causing unnecessary costs in an already struggling economy.

 

 

AEP seeks your help

AEP needs your help in telling U.S EPA that
regulation of coal combustion products as
Subtitle D prime nonhazardous waste is the
appropriate classification. Any other regulation
will cost electricity customers billions of dollars,
with little, if any, incremental environmental
benefit. Send your letter to U.S. EPA from
www.RegulateCoalAshRight.org.

Classifying CCPs as hazardous waste when disposed of, yet permitting its beneficial use probably will have unintended negative impacts on the markets for these products.

“If EPA classifies CCPs as hazardous waste when disposed of, the CCP beneficial use industry expects to see the markets for CCPs significantly reduced, if not virtually eliminated,” said Tim Light, senior vice president – Fuels, Emissions & Logistics. This would cause both our cost of doing business as well as that of the CCP beneficial use industry to be adversely impacted.

Beneficial use of CCP reduces the need for disposal space and extends the useful life of existing disposal facilities.

AEP CCP facts
Average tons of coal burned per year: 65 million tons
Tons of CCP produced each year: 7 – 8 million tons*
CCPs sold for beneficial use each year: about 40%
*varies with electrical generation and the specific 
characteristics of the coal burned.

There are financial benefits as well. CCP sales provide a modest revenue stream for AEP, typically $7- to $8-million per year. The financial picture changes dramatically when the avoided disposal costs of $10- to $11-million per year are added, more than doubling the financial value to the company. These savings are shared with customers.

According to Rick Hayek, who manages AEP’s CCP and gypsum marketing activities, manufacturers like using coal ash materials because they are stable and economical. AEP-produced fly ash typically is used as additive in concrete mixture, bottom ash is most typically used in snow and ice control and occasionally as road base materials, and boiler slag is typically used in blasting grit and in the manufacture of roofing shingles.

The market for synthetic gypsum is fairly new. In 2008, CertainTeed Gypsum opened a wallboard manufacturing plant near Moundsville, West Virginia, creating many good-paying jobs for the local economy. The plant uses synthetic gypsum produced by scrubber operations at our Mitchell and Cardinal plants.

In addition, AEP itself puts about 1 million tons of CCPs to beneficial use each year in its own operations to stabilize landfilled FGD materials, for containment systems and on internal roads.

There has been extensive research and CCPs are universally accepted as useful material.

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