Monthly Archives: January 2019

Legacy CCR Series: Part 2 of 6

Project Costs Matter

When it comes to legacy CCR disposition (see Part 1), project costs need to be considered. The method deemed “most feasible” should not only reflect the science behind the decision, but also how project costs become a factor in the decision process. Whether a utility is regulated or not, costs passed on to ratepayers in regulated markets, or customers in unregulated markets, affect the process.

No one intentionally wants to spend more than they must, so utilities that have legacy CCR, environmentalists, legislators and energy end users do share common goals for incurring reasonable expenses for the solution, which often results in taking a hybrid approach to protect ratepayers or customers by maximizing economies and by preventing unnecessary costs.

Main costs components of proper legacy CCR deposition have major and minor differences. This post covers the major differences, which are:

  1. Preparation for transport – excavating, drying
  2. Transportation modes – different for microencapsulation, macroencapsulation and disposal

Common Costs

Although no two coal ash ponds are the same, any clean closure project has common methods:

  • CCR dewatering and treatment
  • CCR excavation
  • Preparation for transport
  • Transportation costs (on-site or off-site)
  • Final use (costs associated with beneficial use) or disposal
  • Site upgrades, restoration
  • Ongoing maintenance

On-site handling, site restoration, loadout and project management have similar characteristics and minor differences in costs, but would be consistent in all project scenarios.

The table below is a comparative example of estimated project costs for the three methods:

Press Statement from Richmond-based EnCAP-IT regarding coal ash removal in SB 1533

For Immediate Release: January 28, 2019
Contact: John Swenson, EnCAP-IT,

Richmond-Based EnCAP-IT Asks Governor Northam
To Ensure Consumer Protection by Including “Alternative Solutions” in Coal Ash Clean-Up Bill

RICHMOND, Va. — While Gov. Ralph Northam and his administration have made significant, positive progress in ensuring that a bipartisan compromise bill to clean up Dominion’s coal ash moves forward within the Virginia General Assembly, Richmond-based company EnCAP-IT is asking the governor to encourage policymakers to take it one step further to ensure consumer protection.

EnCAP-IT – which has more than eight years of national experience working to resolve environmental issues related – is asking the governor and policymakers to consider including language in SB 1533 that allows for alternative solutions to be considered through a RFP (Request for Proposal) process.

“We are excited about the progress that has been made on this important environmental issue,” said John Swenson, managing partner of EnCAP-IT. “By deleting a couple of words to the current legislation, ‘optionality’ will become a consideration, which ensures that all solutions to coal ash clean-up are on the table, therefore creating a win-win for the environment, the commonwealth, and Dominion Energy.”

Currently, the proposed bill calls for two remedies to clean up Dominion’s coal ash. Those include encapsulated beneficial use of a minimum of 25% and then disposal. According to EnCAP-IT, unencapsulated beneficial uses (what EnCAP-IT refers to as “Macroencapsulation”) exist that should also be considered, not as a substitute alternative, but in addition to the bill’s predestined methods.  

Macroencapsulation would allow coal ash to be recycled in synthetically-lined berms above the water table at a power plant site. This technique is just as safe as landfilling, however with the benefit of leveraging existing footprints.  VA DEQ has already determined that this method is safe at two landfills in Virginia, positioning the Commonwealth as an industry leader.

“Macroencapsulation is a large-volume beneficial solution to this problem that is not currently on the table,” Swenson added. “It’s the most practical solution because roadway logistics, transportation costs and risks are all minimized. In addition, it is a more affordable option for the ratepayer.”

“Before legislation is finalized, let’s at least ensure that optionality and alternative solutions are not determined in legislative process, but in RFP process,” Swenson said. “No matter who gets the job in the end, it’s important that all options are considered.  There is a lot of work to do.” 

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About EnCAP-IT

EnCAP-IT was founded in 2009 in Glen Allen, Virginia, as a consulting and design firm. The company works to resolve environmental issues for waste management, power and other industries with our proprietary macroencapsulation technology. By using combustion residuals and other production byproducts to create eMSE berms, EnCAP-IT can achieve beneficial reuse and dramatically reduce construction costs for its clients. For more information, visit: https://www.mseberms.com.


Legacy CCR Series: Part 1 of 6

Three Solutions for Legacy Coal Ash Disposition

When coal combustion residuals (CCR), such as coal ash, fly ash, bottom ash, gypsum and other solids produced by coal-fired power plants are improperly stored, they can contaminate surrounding soil and ground and surface water, causing a host of environmental problems.

The most expedient way to deal with legacy CCR stored in outdoor ponds has been “cap in place,” which involves covering it where it lies. This is deemed “safe under certain conditions” by EPA regulations, but environmentalists and the public have become more savvy to the inherent drawbacks and consider cap in place a non-solution.

No one intentionally wants to harm the environment, so utilities that have legacy CCR, environmentalists, legislators and energy end users do share common goals for its proper disposition. Foremost is the desire to recycle as much as possible to keep the coal ash out of landfills, but the simple fact is that the quantity of legacy CCR far outstrips current capacity and requires innovation to solve it.

For instance, in Virginia, legacy coal ash is estimated to be 30 million tons or 27 million cubic yards. Indiana is wrestling with what to do with 60 million cubic yards. These are examples of only two states dealing with legacy CCR.

Three Solutions

  1. Microencapsulation
  2. Macroencapsulation
  3. Disposal

Microencapsulation is a simplified process for beneficiation or recycling and the federal CCR rule defines this as “a beneficial use of CCR that binds the CCR into a solid matrix that minimizes its mobilization into the surrounding environment.” So, CCR is repurposed to create building/construction products such as brick or aggregate, and as Portland cement (PC) substitute in concrete.

We support CCR microencapsulation as the preferred method of CCR recycling, but it currently faces production and market limitations. For utilities, it’s a race to get processing plants online to prepare coal ash for recycling by end-product manufacturers who have finite production capacity and accept CCR on a first-come, first-served basis.

Macroencapsulation is another, often simpler, solution for beneficial use that deals with the remaining legacy coal ash. For years, using CCR, rather than earth, as fill material to construct embankments for landfills, highways, dikes and levees has proven itself a virtually foolproof and comprehensive beneficial use.

Coal ash is transferred and encapsulated into berms or bunkers designed with the land’s eventual reuse in mind. They’re lined with the same geosynthetic material used in modern landfills that blocks seepage into surrounding earth and groundwater. As these structures are completed, they’re fully entombed in liner. This method is an accepted reuse by engineering firms and utilities which has been used for land redevelopment, solar farming or any project that beneficially reuses materials that would otherwise be disposed of; offsetting the use of other natural resources.

Macroencapsulation, in most cases, is a large-volume beneficial use. It’s the most practical solution for constructing berms or bunkers near the coal ash source because roadway logistics, transportation costs and risks are all minimized. In addition, no time is spent, as with microencapsulation, in locating and negotiating terms with end-product manufacturers, building processing plants or guessing what the construction market will do. Once the initial macroencapsulated bunker is lined, coal ash removal can begin, efficiently and immediately.

Disposal – environmentally, the last resort – has historically been the first choice of utilities across the U.S. after cap in place efforts have been exhausted because disposal is relatively easy. However, it’s the last resort because the number of U.S. landfills is dwindling and they tend to be in remote locations.

Additionally, current projections for landfills’ remaining “air space” (waste capacity) don’t include coal ash. So, to begin adding coal ash to an existing landfill’s waste stream maxes out that landfill’s capacity years sooner and creates the need for expansion.

Using landfills also comes with the drawbacks of trucking coal ash over public roadways, exacerbating congestion and risk of spills, as well as increased transportation costs to reach landfills in remote rural areas.

Therefore, disposal as a disposition method for legacy CCR should only be considered after ALL other methods have been exhausted.

No matter what method is chosen, project costs matter in all CCR disposition. Next, we’ll discuss the time factors and financial pros and cons of each solution.

EnCAP-IT’s safeBERM® solutions is Awarded Twelfth Patent

RICHMOND, Va., January 8, 2019 – EnCAP-IT is pleased to announce that today, the twelfth patent was issued to EnCAP-IT (Patent No. 10,174,477) entitled, Reinforced Wall System from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the core technology behind its state-of-the-art safeBERM® solutions.

See Press Release

See Patent