University of Iowa
UI Statement on Coal Ash Displacement
UI, ISU and UNI announce results of groundwater analysis at ash disposal site February 18, 2011
The results of voluntary groundwater testing beneath a quarry where the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa deposit coal and biomass ash have shown levels of the sampled constituents all well below state and federal standards. (Press Release, 02/18/11)
HOW DOES EXPANDING THE USE OF BIOMASS HELP REDUCE COAL ASH?
The amount of coal ash generated by the UI main power plant is decreasing as its biomass project expands. Modifications to the solid fuel handling system and to its second solid fuel boiler will soon allow the UI to transition to the use of biomass in both solid fuel boilers.
Where does COAL ASH FROM THE THREE STATE of IOWA UNIVERSITIES GO?
BMC Aggregates, a private limestone quarry located just south of Waterloo, currently accepts ash from the University of Iowa main power plant coal combustion and biomass process. BMC Aggregates is permitted by the Iowa DNR and the three Board of Regents universities have been using the quarry for ash placement for about seven years.
Why was BMC AGGREGATES CHOSEN?
The private limestone quarry was selected for ash placement because it is a stable geologic structure that can hold the ash and provide a high pH environment. Studies have shown that metals leach from ash more readily in a low pH (acidic) environment.
How much ash is DISPLACED ANNUALLY?
Annually, the UI places between 15,000 – 17,000 tons of ash in the quarry. The ash is placed in the quarry in a dry form, although it may be slightly wetted to minimize dust.
WHAT TYPE OF SITE MONITORING IS DONE?
Last year, the facilities managers of the universities approached Iowa DNR to propose a groundwater monitoring plan for the site. Working with the owner of the site, university staff developed the plan and provided it to the Iowa DNR for review. After review and comment by the Iowa DNR, the monitoring wells were installed. Starting this January, 2010, readings have been taken from the wells on a monthly basis. Lab reports are provided by the Keystone Laboratories of Waterloo, Iowa. The first 12 months of data (at minimum) from all wells will establish the groundwater characteristics from which future testing will be compared.
In addition, the UI annually tests and analyzes the coal ash from the main power plant. The results of these tests are reported to the Iowa DNR in the yearly UI Power Plant Solid By-Products Beneficial Use Report.