After six years of deliberation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released the long-awaited Final Rule on the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) from Electric Utilities. The pre-publication of the final rule, released December 19, 2014, establishes the requirements for CCR landfills and surface impoundments in the energy industry, toughening fly ash regulations and requiring numerous changes to disposal practices.

Coal ash refers to the fine particulate ash produced by combustion of coal and discharged as an airborne emission. The EPA action was prompted by an uncontrolled release of ash from an ash impoundment in December 2008 at the TVA plant in Kingston, TN, creating a spill that sent coal ash slurry over 300 acres of land and into the Emory and Clinch rivers.

In early 2010, the EPA released its draft of two proposed rule options: either reverse the August 1993 and May 2000 Bevill Regulatory Determination regarding CCR and list these residuals as “Special Waste” under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) when destined for disposal, or leave the Bevill Determination in place and regulate disposal under Subtitle D of RCRA by issuing national minimum criteria.

Under the final rule, disposal of CCRs will be regulated under Subtitle D of RCRA. The rule does not designate coal ash as a hazardous material, but establishes structural integrity design criteria and assessment requirements for existing surface impoundments, requires new ponds to be lined, establishes groundwater monitoring and corrective actions, and specifies location restrictions, among other requirements.

At GAI, our nationally recognized engineers provide expertise in CCR disposal and utilization that helps energy clients effectively navigate new compliance issues. “Our professionals act as on-site policy resources for some of the nation’s largest electric utilities to help them comply with the new regulations,” stated Senior Director of Engineering and Power Generation Market Sector Manager, Gary Brendel, PE. “Our team has issued numerous state-of-practice reports and design manuals, and designed and permitted hundreds of structurally stable and environmentally secure landfills, impoundments, and pond-to-landfill conversions for top U.S. utilities at more than 50 facilities.” Using this expertise, the GAI team has developed beneficial reuses for CCRs in road, trail, and runway construction projects.

For more information on assistance with pond closures, cost estimating, or expert regulatory guidance to assist with compliance, contact Gary Brendel, PE at 724.387.2170.


Download the CCR Compliance Document Checklist for EXISTING CCR LANDFILLS and EXISTING SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS prepared by GAI to help guide you through the regulations.

For the complete EPA Coal Ash rule, visit

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