Company plans to install reprocessing unit to make ash suitable for concrete products
Duke Energy announced plans to excavate coal ash from four basins at the H.F. Lee Plant in Goldsboro, N.C., and safely recycle the valuable material for use in concrete products.
"This is the latest step forward in safely closing coal ash basins and represents a significant investment in the Goldsboro community, which benefits customers and the local economy," said Millie Chalk, government and community relations manager for Wayne County.
Coal ash is a non-hazardous material created when coal is burned to produce electricity. Recycling is the only way to avoid permanent disposal of the material. However, much of the ash stored in basins has too much carbon to be used in concrete products. Duke Energy is making additional investments in technology designed to reprocess coal ash from basins to be used in various concrete products.
This is a change from previously announced plans for the site. In 2015, the company announced plans to excavate and relocate coal ash from the site to a fully lined structural fill in Lee County. The Colon Mine project remains a contingency site if final closure plans for basins across the state require it.
After evaluating a variety of locations, our experts have determined that H.F. Lee is an ideal site for a project of this nature based on a number of factors including, proximity to market demand, the volume of ash at the site, ash quality and the site's current closure deadline.
"The ash currently stored at H.F. Lee is what's left after providing safe and reliable energy to our customers for more than 60 years. This recycling project represents an exciting opportunity to repurpose this material into a valuable product," Chalk said.
The majority of the 6 million tons of ash on the property will be safely reprocessed for use in concrete products by the current 2028 closure deadline. Any material left after recycling operations have ended will be relocated to a safe, permanent storage solution off-site. The company does not intend to construct a landfill onsite to store remaining material.
In 2015, Duke Energy recycled nearly two-thirds of the ash produced across its states. North Carolina's coal ash law encourages even more recycling and requires the company to identify three sites across the state for recycling projects, making 900,000 or more tons of material available each year.
Today's announcement is ahead of the Jan. 1, 2017, state deadline for announcing locations for two coal ash recycling projects. In October, the company announced plans to excavate and reprocess coal ash from the Buck Steam Station in Salisbury, N.C. Next, the company will work with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to acquire necessary permits and begin processing material once construction is complete.
Benefits of coal ash recycling
A recent evaluation conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) confirmed recycling ash for concrete as one of the most practical and proven uses of the material. The study examined well-established uses for ash, commercial beneficiation technologies and innovative technologies.
More than half of the concrete produced in the United States contains coal ash because it makes roads, bridges and buildings stronger and more durable. Some of the world's most iconic and sustainable structures were built using coal ash, including One World Trade Center in New York City. For every ton of coal ash used as a replacement for Portland cement in concrete, approximately 1 ton of greenhouse gas emissions are avoided. More information about Duke Energy's coal ash recycling efforts and the EPRI study is available at duke-energy.com/ash-management.
Safely closing ash basins
Duke Energy is making significant progress in safely closing all of its ash basins in ways that protect people, the environment and families' wallets. The company has safely excavated about 5 million tons of ash in the Carolinas this year and recommends capping other basins, an approach most utilities across the nation will use.