Coal Combustion Residual Surface Impoundments

Illinois EPA proposes Standards for the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residual in Surface Impoundments

 

​The Illinois EPA filed the proposed rules for Coal Combustion Residual Surface Impoundments with the Illinois Pollution Control Board on March 30, 2020. These proposed rules contain standards for the storage and disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR) in surface impoundments. The proposed rules are available at the Illinois Pollution Control Board website

The proposed rule creates a new Part 845 in Title 35 of the Administrative Code. The proposal contains comprehensive rules for the design, construction, operation, groundwater monitoring, corrective action, closure and post-closure care of surface impoundments containing CCR. CCR is commonly referred to as coal ash, and CCR surface impoundments are commonly referred to as coal ash ponds or coal ash pits. This proposed rule includes groundwater protection standards applicable to each CCR impoundment at the waste boundary and requires each owner operator to monitor groundwater.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency regulates the coal ash ponds under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and regulations found in 40 CFR Part 257, Subpart D. Illinois EPA's proposed rule includes a permitting program as well as all federal standards for CCR surface impoundments promulgated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  The proposed rules include procedures for public participation, closure alternatives analyses, and closure prioritization. The proposal also includes financial assurance requirements for CCR surface impoundments.

Illinois EPA prepared the proposed rules as a result of a statutory mandate found in Public Act 101-171 (commonly referred to as SB 09), which required Illinois EPA to file the draft rules with Illinois Pollution Control Board no later than March 30, 2020. 

 

The proposed rules:

  1. are at least as protective and comprehensive as the federal regulations or amendments thereto promulgated by the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Subpart D of 40 CFR 257 governing CCR surface impoundments;
  2. specify the minimum contents of CCR surface impoundment construction and operating permit applications, including the closure alternatives analysis;
  3. specify which types of permits include requirements for closure, post-closure, remediation and all other requirements applicable to CCR surface impoundments;
  4. specify when permit applications for existing CCR surface impoundments must be submitted, taking into consideration whether the CCR surface impoundment must close under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA);
  5. specify standards for review and approval by the Agency of CCR surface impoundment permit applications; 
  6. specify meaningful public participation procedures for the issuance of CCR surface impoundment construction and operating permits, including, but not limited to, public notice of the submission of permit applications, an opportunity for the submission of public comments, an opportunity for a public hearing prior to permit issuance, and a summary and response of the comments prepared by the Agency;
  7. prescribe the type and amount of the performance bonds or other securities required as financial assurance, and the conditions under which the State is entitled to collect moneys from such performance bonds or other securities;
  8. specify a procedure to identify areas of environmental justice concern in relation to CCR surface impoundments;
  9. specify a method to prioritize CCR surface impoundments required to close under RCRA if not otherwise specified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, so that the CCR surface impoundments with the highest risk to public health and the environment, and areas of environmental justice concern are given first priority;
  10. define when complete removal of CCR is achieved and specify the standards for responsible removal of CCR from CCR surface impoundments, including, but not limited to, dust controls and the protection of adjacent surface water and groundwater; and
  11. describe the process and standards for identifying a specific alternative source of groundwater pollution when the owner or operator of the CCR surface impoundment believes that groundwater contamination on the site is not from the CCR surface impoundment.

Ash Pond Map

Click on the link to view a map of CCR surface impoundments in Illinois.

Note: The link will not work with the Microsoft Edge browser.  

Public Outreach

In the fall of 2019, Illinois EPA conducted public outreach prior to releasing the draft rules. The Agency held an evening listening session in Springfield and an afternoon and evening listening session at each of the following locations: Peoria, Granite City, Danville, Mt. Vernon, Joliet, and Waukegan. The Illinois EPA considered all comments received at the listening sessions and in writing when preparing the draft regulations.

On December 11, 2019 the Illinois EPA released the draft rule and held a stakeholder meeting January 6, 2020 to accept comments from stakeholders on specific language and concepts on the draft language. Members of the public were also invited to participate in the meeting.  

Written comments were accepted until January 13, 2019. The Agency received written and electronic comments throughout the entire rulemaking process. Electronic comments were received at EPA.CoalAshRules@illinois.gov 

 

The Illinois Pollution Control Board will hold at least two public hearings on the proposed rules.

Planned Rulemaking Timeline

July 30, 2019: The amendment to the Illinois Environmental Protection Act was signed.
September & October 2019: Listening sessions for public input.
November 2019 – December 2019: Public release of draft rules and solicitation of public comment.
March 2020: Illinois EPA proposes CCR rules to the Illinois Pollution Control Board. 

Links

Public Act 101-171
Illinois Pollution Control Board
USEPA Federal CCR Page
40 CFR 257