Related Resource

Managing Coal Combustion Residues in Mines (March 2006)

Report in Brief

Burning coal in electric utility plants produces, in addition to power, residues that contain constituents that may be harmful to the environment. The management of large volumes of coal combustion residues (CCRs) is a challenge for utilities, because they must either place the CCRs in landfills, surface impoundments, or mines, or find alternative uses for the material. This study focuses on the placement of CCRs in active and abandoned coal mines. The report explains that placement of CCRs in mines as part of the reclamation process may be a viable option for the disposal of this material as long as the placement is properly planned and carried out in a manner that avoids significant adverse environmental and health impacts. This report discusses a variety of steps that are involved in planning and managing the use of CCRs as minefills, including an integrated process of CCR characterization and site characterization, management and engineering design of placement activities, and design and implementation of monitoring to reduce the risk of contamination moving from the mine site to the ambient environment. Enforceable federal standards are needed for the disposal of CCRs in minefills to ensure that states have adequate, explicit authority and that they implement minimum safeguards.