Coal Combustion Residual (CCR)


Reliable energy is fundamental to our standard of living. While the combination of energy sources produced in the U.S. is evolving, it’s imperative that all options are safe, efficient and affordable. Coal combustion residual (CCR) projects involve complex environmental challenges and strict EPA deadlines. Ames Construction supports coal-burning utility companies facing those challenges through both our experience in handling CCRs and our capabilities in building out the infrastructure necessary to execute a remediation project. With more than four decades of experience working on some of the largest power plant projects in the nation, our long-standing, repeat clients know that we view their concerns as our concerns and that they’ll receive a job well done from start to finish. 

Contact today to discuss your CCR projects. Kory Neider - Business Development Manager | 801-977-8012

Coal Combustion Residuals

Coal combustion residual (CCR) is an umbrella term for the inorganic, solid byproducts that are left behind when coal is burned. Commonly referred to as coal ash, CCRs are one of the largest types of industrial waste produced in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The disposal of coal ash is regulated under the EPA’s CCR Rule.

What’s in Coal Ash?

Within the CCR umbrella, coal ash byproducts include:

· Fly ash: These are the fine, powdery particles that are captured by pollution control devices before they can “fly” up and out of a smoke stack.

· Bottom ash: Coarser than fly ash, these particles collect at the bottom of a coal furnace.

· Boiler slag: The molten coal ash that crystallizes and forms pellets when it comes into contact with water.

· Flue gas desulfurization gypsum (FGD gypsum): This synthetic gypsum is generated during the emission control systems process in coal-fired power plants. It is chemically identical to mined gypsum.

Depending on where the coal originated, coal ash may contain a number of substances known to be harmful to human health, including arsenic, mercury, lead, and chromium.

As utilities shift to natural gas and renewable resources, the amount of CCRs produced annually in the U.S. has dropped, from nearly 130 million tons of CCRs produced in 2014 to less than 70 million tons in 2020, according to the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA). However, the safe disposal of the CCRs that have been generated for decades remains an environmental challenge.

Why Is Coal Ash Regulated?

Early power plants allowed fly ash to be released into the atmosphere. With the advent of better pollution reduction technology and air pollution control regulations, utilities began capturing the ash and disposing of it in either dry landfills or wet surface impoundments, also known as coal ash ponds. Many of these disposal sites were unlined, with the potential to leak contaminates into groundwater.

Ash ponds also pose a threat to neighboring waterways. Because coal plants need a source for cooling water, they are typically built near lakes and rivers. This proximity poses serious environmental risks in cases of impoundment failures or severe flooding events. In response to an impoundment failure, the EPA developed the CCR Rule, which outlines the corrective actions that utilities must take to dispose of coal ash, along with technical standards, timelines, and requirements for inspections, monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting.

Because of the EPA’s enforcement of the CCR Rule and the evolving energy mix favored by utility companies, virtually all unlined surface impoundments must close.

How Does Ames Construction Close a Coal Ash Pond?

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution to closing a surface impoundment—every site has its own set of geotechnical, safety and environmental challenges.

As a full-service, self-performing, heavy civil and industrial general contractor operating throughout North America, Ames Construction is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of utility companies in all facets of coal ash impoundment closure. Tailoring our services to each specific project and owner, we have performed “cap in place” closure, closure by removal, and closure by consolidation. Our capabilities include:

· excavation, hauling and conditioning of coal ash

· dewatering

· water treatment

· site grading

· construction of access infrastructure

· construction of drainage systems

· groundwater management

· new landfill construction

· landfill capping

At Ames Construction, we know that as a closure project progresses, work scope can change and new challenges can present themselves. We answer these challenges by leveraging our in-house expertise, labor and equipment to make every project successful.

From its founding in the 1960s, Ames has committed to the principle of “working in harmony with nature” to reflect the company’s determination to maintain the integrity of the environment. Our commitment to safeguarding natural resources is also a commitment to protecting the communities we serve. Check out our CCR remediation projects to learn more about our experience and capabilities.

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