Management of coal combustion wastes (CCC/231)
It has been estimated that 780 Mt of coal combustion products (CCPs) were produced worldwide in 2010. Only about 53.5% were utilised, the rest went to storage or disposal sites. Disposal of coal combustion waste (CCW) on-site at a power plant may involve decades-long accumulation of waste, with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tonnes of dry ash or wet ash slurry being stored. In December 2008, a coal combustion waste pond in Kingston, Tennessee, USA burst. Over 4 million cubic metres of ash sludge poured out, burying houses and rivers in tonnes of toxic waste. Clean-up is expected to continue into 2014 and will cost $1.2 billion. The incident drew worldwide attention to the risk of CCW disposal. This caused a number of countries to review CCW management methods and regulations. The report begins by outlining the physical and chemical characteristics of the different type of ashes generated in a coal-fired power plant. The amounts of CCPs produced and regulations on CCW management in selected countries have been compiled. The CCW disposal methods are then discussed. Finally, the potential environmental impacts and human health risks of CCW disposal, together with the methods used to prevent them, are reviewed.