In 2015, minimum national standards were established for the location, design, and operation of existing and new landfills and surface impoundments containing coal ash at more than 400 coal-fired power plants nationwide. In March 2018, EPA proposed more than a dozen changes to these regulations, a subset of which are incorporated into a final regulation today.
EPA finalized two types of alternative performance standards: 1) allowing a state director (in a state with an approved coal ash permit program) or EPA (where EPA is the permitting authority) to suspend groundwater monitoring requirements if there is evidence that there is no potential for migration of hazardous constituents to the uppermost aquifer during the active life of the unit and post closure care and 2) allowing issuance of technical certifications in lieu of a professional engineer.
In addition, EPA is revising the groundwater protection standard for constituents that do not have an established drinking water standard, also known as a maximum contaminant level (MCL). EPA is also extending the deadline by which facilities must cease placement of waste in coal ash units closing for cause for two situations:
- Where the facility has detected a statistically significant increase above a groundwater protection standard from an unlined surface impoundment; or
- Where the unit is unable to comply with the location restriction regarding placement above the uppermost aquifer.
Provisions from the March 2018 proposed rule that are not being finalized today will be addressed in a subsequent phase of rulemaking. In addition, EPA plans to propose other changes to the 2015 coal ash rule later this year.
More information on the finalized amendments: https://www.epa.gov/coalash/coal-ash-rule#partonephaseone
More information can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/coalash