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Coal Ash Rules Comment Period Extended

RALEIGH –The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has extended the informal public comment period to April 6 on rules drafted to better protect public health and the environment when coal ash wastes are disposed of and recycled, the agency announced Friday.

Those wishing to comment in writing can email their comments until 5 p.m. April 6 to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov. Include “CCR Rules” in the subject line.

A fourth public meeting will be at 6 p.m. March 27 in Ballroom A at the Gastonia Conference Center, 145 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Gastonia. There will be a presentation about the rules and an opportunity for the public to provide feedback.

The state agency made the draft coal ash rules available for public comments starting Feb. 8, with the comment period set to end March 22. Previous public meetings were Feb. 12 in Roxboro, Feb. 20 in Dallas and Feb. 22 in Wilmington.

The agency made the decision to extend the comment period and add another meeting after hearing from citizens who wished to have more opportunity to provide feedback on the rules.

“Our top priority is making sure all stakeholders have a chance to be heard especially on issues like this one where there has been widespread interest,” said Sheila Holman, DEQ assistant secretary in a statement. “Allowing for greater participation is good government.”

The rules address coal combustion residuals including coal ash, which is a waste product generated when coal is converted into electricity. Waste is increasingly being removed from coal ash impoundments at state power plants and transported to either landfills engineered to be protective of the environment and human health or to recycling facilities for reuse into construction products such as cement, concrete blocks and wall board, according to a release from DEQ. The draft rules incorporate specific requirements from federal rules that outline how coal ash landfills are to be designed, constructed and operated. A section of the rules also addresses dams at the coal ash landfills.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.