SCE&G and Riverkeeper reach agreement on coal ash storage
South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation today announced they have reached a settlement of a suit brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center regarding ash storage at Wateree Station in Eastover, S.C. The settlement provides additional commitments to the process and timetables established in an October 2011 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between SCE&G and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Specifically, the settlement contains a binding agreement to remove all the coal ash now stored in impoundments at the Wateree Station to lined landfill storage away from the Wateree River or recycling of the ash, and also accelerates the timetable for the commitment SCE&G made in the MOA for the complete removal of coal ash. The Southern Environmental Law Center had brought suit on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper against SCE&G under the South Carolina Pollution Control Act. That case is resolved by the settlement.
In the MOA, SCE&G laid out its plan to proactively and voluntarily remove the ash from the ash ponds and transition to dry ash handling and storage at the plant site. Using the experience of the past year since the signing of the MOA, SCE&G made refinements and provided further definition to the plan that resulted in the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement provides that 240,000 tons of coal ash will be removed from the wet storage facility in the first three years and provides for complete removal of coal ash by December 31, 2020. In 2010, SCE&G opened an onsite state of the art dry storage facility, which was the first step toward decommissioning the ash ponds.
“This settlement is a great example of how industry, stakeholders and government agencies can work together to produce a proactive plan that is in the best interest of all,” said Jim Landreth, vice president for SCE&G Fossil and Hydro Operations. “From our voluntary agreement with DHEC a year ago to our affirmation of that agreement in our settlement with the Catawba Riverkeeper today, SCE&G continues to demonstrate its commitment to efficiently and effectively decommission wet ash storage facilities at all of our coal-fired stations.”
Frank Holleman, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center explained: “This is an historic agreement. SCE&G has bound itself to remove its coal ash from the impoundments near the Wateree River, has accelerated its schedule for removal, and has committed itself to improved handling and storage of coal ash.”
Rick Gaskins, the Catawba Riverkeeper, stated: “This agreement and SCE&G’s commitments are a major step forward for the protection of the Catawba-Wateree Basin. Coal ash will be removed from unlined impoundments near the banks of the River and the ash pond will be closed. SCE&G’s binding commitments are in the best interests of the Wateree, the Congaree National Park, and SCE&G.”
This settlement does not exempt SCE&G from obtaining the necessary regulatory permits. SCE&G will obtain all required permits through DHEC and other appropriate regulatory agencies.
For more information, contact:
SCE&G: Robert Yanity, Public Affairs: 803-217-9501 (office); 803-260-2630 (cell)
Southern Environmental Law Center: Frank Holleman, Senior Attorney: 864-979-9431 (cell); 919-945-7124 (office)
Catawba Riverkeeper: Rick Gaskins, Executive Director: 704-679-9494 (office); 704-408-3487 (cell)
SCE&G is a regulated utility engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to approximately 669,000 customers in South Carolina. The company also provides natural gas service to approximately 318,000 customers throughout the state. More information about SCE&G is available at www.sceg.com
About Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation:
The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation advocates for the health, protection and enjoyment of the Catawba-Wateree River watershed. The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation provides education, processes and programs to protect your drinking water and the many resources of the entire Catawba- Wateree River watershed. Catawba Riverkeeper’s experienced network includes a diverse community of members, engaged volunteers and professional staff whose dedication of time, talent and resources protect and enhance our river today and for future generations. The vision of Catawba Riverkeeper is for the waters of the entire Catawba-Wateree River basin to always be of high quality and abundant quantity to sustain and enhance the lives of all the humans, the wildlife and the ecosystems that depend on it.