Mid-Atlantic power company FirstEnergy has announced a plan to send scrubber material and coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) from its Bruce Mansfield Plant in Shippingport, PA to a coal mine reclamation project in La Belle, PA.
“It’s material from the scrubbers so there’s some lime-base in it, there’s gypsum in it, and what that does it mitigates some of the effects of the abandoned mine. Ultimately this site would be filled in then covered over with a cap. It’s the ability to beneficially use the material to deal with a problem in Pennsylvania and that is with some of these older, abandoned mine sites,” said FirstEnergy Spokesman Mark Durbin.
Bruce Mansfield Power Plant is the largest Coal fired power plant in Pennsylvania. Its waste is currently held in the Little Blue Run slurry dump which is slated to close in a few years. Initially FirstEnergy had proposed building another dump site next to Little Blue Run. With the new plan to beneficially use the coal waste, that original plan has been nixed.
The use of the CCBs for mine reclamation is subject to approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. If approved, the waste would be transported from Shippingport to La Belle via barge along the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers. Durbin said such material is already moved on barges throughout the state, and there are no major safety concerns.
“It’s something that we looked at before making this announcement and we don’t think it will be an issue,” he said, “there are some folks out there who don’t agree with anything we do and we’re never going to change their minds. But what I can tell you is any type of safeguards we have to do, we’ll do them in order to move this material from point A to point B.”
Little Blue Run is slated for closure at the end of 2016. The slurry dump will stay in place with continued monitoring, but after the closure no new waste can be added. FirstEnergy is required to submit a formal closure plan to the DEP no later than March 31, 2013.