A Decade of Performance
Coal ash is the second-largest industrial waste stream in the United States, with approximately 130 million tons produced annually. Over the last several years, new technologies for final ash storage have been successfully implemented and are outperforming traditional vegetated closures in numerous categories. This year, Watershed Geo celebrates the 10-year anniversary of its first ClosureTurf® landfill installation and reflects on a decade of progress, noting the value of geosynthetics as a viable final closure solution for coal combustion residuals (CCRs).
ClosureTurf® is a final landfill closure system designed to address the environmental and performance failures of traditional soil/vegetated caps. To date, the engineered synthetic turf system spans approximately 1,500 acres of closure, safely and effectively reducing environmental and operational impacts of landfills, including ash impoundments, across the United States. It has also provided an innovative and stable solution for solar generation.
CCR Regulations and Challenges
In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its final rule governing disposal of CCRs produced by electric utilities. The rule requires facilities to meet detailed location, design, operation, closure, and 30-year post-closure care requirements, including the maintenance of and repairs to final covers and other unit components, as well as the semiannual detection and assessment monitoring of groundwater.
The federal CCR rule and individual state efforts to regulate this non-hazardous solid waste are furthering interest in new and emerging technologies. Industrywide, approximately 10% of the coal burned to make electricity makes its way into a CCR waste stream. Beneficial reuse is part of the solution, but the industry needs a long-term answer for CCR that is both cost effective and environmentally responsible. Final landfill closure solutions that include state-of-the-art engineered turf systems require less operation and maintenance expense over the life of the project and are environmentally friendly options that offer utilities more flexibility to meet the growing regulatory framework faced by utilities. Additionally, utilities are facing renewable energy mandates issued by individual states that vary widely, prompting the consideration of geosynthetic turf closures as an ideal surface on which to deploy and maximize the use of solar panels.
Designed to address the stringent requirements of CCR closure regulations, the synthetic turf system is proving to be an effective solution for utilities and industrial sites facing aggressive mandates. Currently being used on multiple large-scale CCR disposal projects, this innovative solution is fully compliant with the requirements of Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and offers meaningful advantages specific to CCR disposal challenges.
Learn more about Geosynthetic Solutions for Final Closure of Coal Combustion Residuals: