The Richmond Power & Light plant on U.S. 27 South. (Photo: Palladium-Item file)
The Richmond Power & Light plant on U.S. 27 South. (Photo: Palladium-Item file)
RICHMOND — When Richmond Power & Light's generating station along U.S. 27 South was built in 1954, the ash that came from burning coal was taken to a spot behind the plant and dumped.

"It was common practice back then. It's the way everybody did it," RP&L General Manager Randy Baker told the utility's board Monday night.

Over more than 15 years, some 400,000 tons of coal ash were spread over a 7½-8 acre area in the northwest portion of the property. Now, that must be remediated, and it's not going to be cheap.

Baker on Monday gave an update to the board about what's being done to comply with the federal government's CCR (Coal Combustion Residuals) Rule.

The regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency came into effect in 2015 and says utilities must clean up or take care in some other manner any coal ash stored on their properties.

There are two ways in which that can be done. One is to remove all of the ash and have it transported to a landfill that will take it. The other is to leave it where it is, put a dirt cap and fresh soil on top, and then monitor the surrounding groundwater over the next 20 years for any potential contamination.

Removing the ash altogether would be an expensive endeavor. Estimates put together so far by RP&L have that cost anywhere between $38.55 million and $55.5 million depending on the method of transportation and how far away the landfill would be.

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