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Coal Ash Surface Impoundment Assessments

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Following the massive coal ash spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston facility in December 2008, EPA took aggressive steps to assess impoundments and other units that manage residuals from coal combustion and that contain free liquids. TVA's Kingston spill of coal combustion residuals (CCRs or coal ash) flooded more than 300 acres of land, damaging homes and property. The released materials flowed into the Emory and Clinch rivers, filling large areas of the rivers and resulting in fish kills.

This catastrophic spill prompted EPA to gather more information from facilities managing coal combustion residuals nationwide. EPA conducted a multi-step assessment of surface impoundments or similar units that contain CCRs to learn if there are any other impoundments that could also pose an imminent risk of failure. Steps taken include:

Beginning on March 9, 2009, EPA mailed Information Request letters to electric utilities and corporations that have surface impoundments or similar units that contain CCRs. These information requests were sent to 219 facilities and through them, EPA received information on 584 impoundments. These letters requested information to assist EPA in evaluating the structural integrity of these management units. EPA, working closely with other federal agencies and the states, reviewed the information provided by the facilities to identify impoundments or similar units that need priority attention.

The Agency, using contractors who are experts in dam integrity, conducted site assessments at many impoundments and is requiring appropriate remedial action at any facility that is found to have a unit posing a risk for potential failure. Moreover, EPA requested that facilities implement those recommendations made through the site assessment reports. Through these efforts, EPA was informed of nine additional facilities with surface impoundments. EPA mailed Information Requests to these facilities on December 29, 2009. As the nationwide assessment progresses, the Agency will continue to issue updated information.

Additional Information
Documents Related to Assessment Efforts
Final Regulation

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