The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM, is writing new rules for the disposal of coal ash.
The update is part of a federal overhaul aimed at tightening regulations governing coal combustion residuals, or CCRs.
The waste, commonly referred to as coal ash, is a byproduct of burning coal for electricity.
The new rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set requirements for how electric utilities dispose of coal ash.
But the EPA leaves it up to the states to write a plan for meeting the federal requirements.
Indiana Department of Environmental Management Permitting Branch Chief Jeff Sewell says the federal rules are mostly concerned with coal ash containment.
“The main one would be the specific standards for surface impoundments, because right now Indiana’s regulations are very general,” Sewell says.
Most of the coal ash in the state is currently being held in either wet or dry pits. Some are covered on top, while some aren’t, and some have an impermeable lining to prevent leaks; others do not.
The new state plan will set specific requirements for those pits.
IDEM is taking public input on the proposed regulations, which can be read online at www.IN.gov/idem/landquality/ccr.
At a public comment meeting last week in Indianapolis, Sierra Club spokeswoman Jodi Perras was one of many who asked that utilities provide greater public access to company data on coal ash contamination.
“And the best way to remedy that lack of trust is through transparency and honesty,” Perras says.
The public can email comments on the plan by emailing Sewell at email@example.com. Comments must be received by June 30.