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Does the Progress Energy Sutton Steam Plant produce coal ash? If so, how do they dispose of it?

Ken Little

The Sutton facility on U.S. 421 consists of three coal-fired units and three combustion turbine units.When coal is burned to create electricity, about 10 percent of the coal remains behind as ash, Progress Energy spokesman Scott Sutton says.

The steam plant stores its coal ash in two regulated and permitted ash impoundments, or ‘ponds,’ on plant property, Sutton says.

“These ash ponds are regulated by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, and as of Jan. 1, 2010, they will be regulated by the N.C. Dam Safety Program of the N.C. Division of Land Resources,” Sutton says.

The ash impoundments were built in 1972 and 1984, respectively. Both include dams “that are part of our rigorous inspection process to ensure their structural integrity,” Sutton said.

Monthly inspections by trained Progress Energy employees have found “no significant issues,” Sutton says.

Annual inspections of each dam are conducted by an independent engineering firm, which reviews the monthly inspection data. The most recent annual inspection by MACTEC Engineering and Consulting occurred on March 25.

In addition, an independent engineering firm conducts an extensive inspection and review of each dam every five years, Sutton says. The results of the inspections are provided to the N.C. Utilities Commission. The Sutton plant’s last five-year inspection was in December 2007. It was also performed by MACTEC Engineering and Consulting.

For more information about coal and oil-fueled power generating plants operated by Progress Energy, go to http://progress-energy.com/aboutenergy/powerplants/steam.asp

User-contributed question by:
Tom Behm

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