Sorry for the lack of posting last week. As you all know it was the fourth of July holiday last week and I went away for most of the week with my family to Siesta Key in Florida to celebrate. There wasn’t much to report since I was only in the office two days.

So here’s the update on my research project with NCDEACS:

I’ve just begun the next step on my overarching project here at the NCDEQ and it is proving to be quite challenging. I’ve gathered the most accurate information I can about what kind of system each county has in place for curbside recycling collection and have also gathered the most accurate information I can regarding which haulers are performing these services in the county and the best contact information for them. On Thursday of last week I began calling all of the haulers on my list (a little over 350). This seems like a large number, but if you think of statewide recycling collectors, it doesn’t seem that plentiful. Additionally, many of the contacts on the list are repeats, sorted by individual county. Many of them serve more than one county, especially corporate companies like Waste Industries.

By this point I’ve made it through most of them, although that is not the issue. The issue is getting responses. Only a handful have picked up the phone or responded to an email. In most cases I get a voicemail or a secretary where I leave a message and get no call back. In order to build our database it is important to get as many responses as possible from these individuals. Data is something government departments and agencies constantly desire for research purposes which will help their citizens, but it is often hard to gather.

In other news:
Tomorrow I present on Coal Combustion Residuals and how they can be recycled to our Recycling and Materials Management Section (RAMMS). There are four main types:

Fly Ash, Bottom Ash, Boiler Slag, and Flue Gas Desulfurization Material (FGD). Each of these forms have a beneficial use as designated under the EPA’s Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Final Rule. The EPA defines Beneficial Use as “the recycling or reuse of coal ash in lieu of disposal…the final rule supports the responsible recycling of coal ash by distinguishing beneficial use from disposal” (U.S. EPA). These beneficial uses include encapsulated uses and unencapsulated uses. Encapsulated uses can include use in wallboard, concrete, roofing materials, and bricks. Essentially the coal ash or FGD material is used to make these products- trapping in the dangerous chemicals and metals in coal ash as well as making products stronger in many cases. Unencapsulated uses may include use in structural fills and embankments. Unencapsulated uses are more controversial. With loose ash being deposited into the ground, certain dangerous metals like arsenic and lead have the potential to affect groundwater quality. While the disposal of coal ash is like unencapsulated use, coal ash that is buried for disposal purposes has certain monitoring qualifications it must be under over a certain number of years. If coal ash is defined as being ‘beneficially used’ it does not have to meet those same standards.

So why is this important for our state to be aware of?

After the Dan River Coal Ash spill the issue of coal ash ponds became more public than it had been in North Carolina in the past.

Following the spill, Duke Energy has been tasked with closing all its Coal Ash Ponds and opening three coal ash recycling facilities. The three proposed locations are: The Buck Steam Station in Salisbury, NC, The H.F. Lee Plant in Goldsboro, NC, and the Cape Fear Plant in Moncure, NC. The Energy Company must have the capacity to recycle at least 900,000 tons of coal ash at these sites under law (2014 Coal Ash Management Act). Currently, Duke Energy is seeking a 15% rate increase for its customers to meet the demands that recycling more coal ash has on its profit margins. The company has spent $725 million on coal ash cleanup since 2015.

After I make the final version of my presentation I will try to upload it here, as well as some comments about how the presentation went. Wish me luck!

As always, thanks for reading.

Tara

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