The Indiana Department of Environmental Management says a recent federal appeals court ruling could change closure plans for a coal ash pond in Lawrenceburg.
The Main Ash Pond, owned by Tanners Creek Development LLC, is a "legacy pond" - which means it's located at a closed down power plant. Even though legacy ponds pose the same health risks as other coal ash ponds, the Environmental Protection Agency didn't monitor them.
Tim Maloney is the senior policy director of the Hoosier Environmental Council. He says now that the court has ordered the EPA to regulate legacy ponds, the original plan to cap the Main Ash Pond in place won't work.
"If you follow the letter of the federal rule, you can't do in place closure at these sites because you can never guarantee that the ash won't come back into contact with water," he says.
Maloney says the unlined Main Ash Pond sits on top of a shallow aquifer. With that in mind, he hopes this means something else will happen to the waste.
"Excavate the ash and put it in a place in an engineered landfill where it won't contaminate groundwater and is protected from flood waters," he suggests.
Maloney says under the EPA there would also have to be more detailed recording and reporting at the coal ash pond site.
The federal appeals court ruling also recommended the EPA close unlined coal ash pits and do away with ineffective clay liners. Due to the ruling, IDEM has postponed a public hearing on the Main Ash Pond set for Thursday.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.