Coal Tattoo

EPA releases ‘integrity’ studies of coal-ash dams


The U.S. EPA just released the first in a series of “structural integrity assessment” of coal-fired power plant ash dams located across the nation’s coalfields and beyond … and you can check it all out here, or look at a summary spreadsheet here.

EPA’s data release includes contractor reports on the dams at 17  sites in 7 states. All are ranked as “high hazard potential” structures, meaning that their failure could cost human lives.

Bottom line:

The assessments have rated the structural integrity of seven impoundments as “satisfactory,” nine units as “fair,” and one unit as “poor.”  None of the units assessed received an “unsatisfactory” rating.  According to dam safety experts, only impoundments rated as unsatisfactory pose immediate safety threats.

EPA says it is going to post the same reports on other impoundments as that material becomes available to the agency. Definitions of the terms “satisfactory,” “fair,” and “poor” are available here.

The one dam ranked as “poor” is the “1964 Pond” located at Progress Energy’s Asheville Power Station in Buncombe County, N.C.  If you take a look at the report EPA released on it, note how much information is marked as “redacted,” or hidden from the public.