15 October 2014
Posted in Center Information
PI: Dr. Timothy Townsend, University of Florida
Management of the byproducts and residuals generated from the combustion of fuels represents one of the more challenging and complex solid waste management issues facing Florida’s regulators, policymakers and government officials. In 2010, approximately 25% of the electricity generated in Florida was produced through the combustion of coal or similar solid fossil fuels, occurring at 15 different facilities (Cordiano, 2011). Additionally, 13 waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities combusted 3.9 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) (FDEP, 2010) and 3 facilities converted woody biomass to renewable energy (NRDC, 2013). Solid wastes are produced at all of these facilities, both as a result of unburned and noncombustible residuals as well as air pollution control (APC) byproducts.
All solid wastes, including fuel combustion residuals (FCR), must be managed in a manner protective of human health and the environment. A number of state laws and regulations provide requirements for managing solid wastes in a safe and protective fashion, and these rules are often directly adopted from federal regulations. For example, regulations developed and administered by the US - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outline very specific management requirements for those wastes meeting the definition of hazardous waste and provide design and performance standards for landfills and WTE facilities managing MSW. Currently absent at the federal level, however, are regulations specifically designed to address the management FCR (regulations for the management of residues from coal combustion are currently proposed by the EPA).
In absence of specific federal rules or guidance, individual states have developed their own regulations to address FCR management. WTE combustion residuals are typically managed along with other MSW in engineered landfills. In some states, requirements for management of coal combustion residuals (CCR) are well defined, while in other states, decisions regarding CCR management are either defined on a facility-specific basis or they are not defined at all. Proposed federal legislation and regulations include several possible approaches for CCR management.
The goals of this white paper are to provide a concise assessment of the current state of FCR management in Florida, summarize relevant background information on the topic, and identify both the opportunities and limitations for FCR beneficial use in the state. While there are distinct differences among the different types of FCR described herein (CCR, WTE ash, wood ash), and specifics on each are provided throughout, the general approach to assessing the opportunities and limitations are deliberately outlined for FCR as a whole, as the general scientific and policy considerations with respect to evaluating beneficial use applies equally to all of these materials.