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    Duke Energy working to clean up Gallagher coal ash site, will follow any new regulations

    May 25, 2023 - Libby Cunningham, The Evening News and the Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind.


      May 24—NEW ALBANY — Stricter guidelines could be on the horizon for getting rid of hazardous waste at coal ash dumps in Indiana, including Gallagher Station in New Albany.

      The Indiana Capitol Chronicle reports the Environment Protection Agency released this month a draft of potential new federal rules that would affect clean-up at these types of properties.

      Duke Energy Spokesperson Angeline Protogere said the company is already working to clean up the site.

      "We are closing all of our coal ash basins at our retired Gallagher Station in a way that's safe for the environment and have already completed a significant amount of the work," Protogere said. "We don't expect to have to significantly modify our plans at Gallagher based on the proposed new rules, but we'll continue to evaluate the rule and our work. We'll certainly meet the requirements of the rule once it is finalized."

      The are a total of six coal ash basins on the site.

      "We will be monitoring groundwater for at least 30 years and will meet groundwater quality standards," she said.

      The only drinking well downgradient of the Gallagher ash basins is the one the plant has been using itself, and Protegere said it has "consistently showed no impacts from ash."

      "Monitoring wells right at the ash basin boundaries, not surprisingly, do show coal ash impacts, but the steps we're taking will continue to improve groundwater quality," she said. "Groundwater monitored downgradient between the ash basins and the Ohio River shows there is no impact from coal ash reaching the river. "

      The Indiana Capitol Chronicle reports this move arises out of a settlement to a lawsuit involving nonprofit environmental litigator Earthjustice, some plaintiffs from Indiana and others.

      Plaintiffs argued that the EPA wasn't doing its job and failed to "to review and revise a regulation exempting inactive coal combustion residuals landfills."

      The EPA added federal regulations for coal ash dumping in 2015, but those rules didn't include landfills that stopped taking toxic waste before they went into effect, or power plants that ceased operations before that date.

      These new draft regulations are meant to close the loophole in the original law.

      Some basins at Gallagher were subject to the already established Federal Coal Combustion Residual rule, but others not considered active basins were still subject to state regulation.

      This proposed rule brings all basins at the location under federal regulation, Protegere said.

      "The Biden administration is standing up for people near a lot of hazardous coal waste sites around the country," said Earthjustice Senior Counsel Lisa Evans. "For far too long, a large portion of toxic coal ash around the U.S. was left leaching into drinking water supplies without any requirement it be cleaned up."

      The Indiana Capitol Chronicle said research from Earthjustice showed the 2015 regulations left out 2013 landfills and 23 ponds at 14 sites statewide.

      Earthjustice's research lists sites affected in Indiana as Bailly, Breed, Clifty Creek, Dean H. Mitchell, Edwardsport, Frank E. Ratts, Gibson, Merom, Michigan City, Noblesville, R. Gallagher, Stateline Energy, Tanners Creek, Warrick.

      The analysis from Earthjustice lists the Gallagher Generating Station as one of the sites. Protegere confirms it is included.

      Duke Energy said Gallagher Station opened in 1958 in Floyd County and had four units operating by 1961. Two of those units closed in 2012 and the final two closed in June 2021.


      (c)2023 The Evening News and The Tribune (Jeffersonville, Ind.)

      Visit The Evening News and The Tribune (Jeffersonville, Ind.) at

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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