KRC Comments On Investigative Phase Of Corrective Action Plan for Contamination At E.W. Brown Power Plant Posted: October 5, 2017
September 30, 2017
Peter Goodmann, Director
Division of Water
300 Sower Boulevard
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Re: Comments On Investigative Phase of Herrington
Lake Corrective Action Plan, August 2017
AI 3148 Mercer County
These comments are provided on the Investigative Phase of the Herrington Lake Corrective Action Plan, August 2017 in response to the e-mail notification of August 24, 2017 soliciting public comment on the proposed investigative phase of the corrective action plan.
KRC appreciates the opportunity to provide these comments, and looks forward to reviewing the results of the site investigation into the sources and pathways of selenium and other constituents of concern from the management of coal and coal combustion wastes at the Kentucky Utilities Co. - Brown Station.
KRC has reviewed the August 2017 iteration of the Investigative Phase of the Herrington Lake Corrective Action Plan, and offers these comments regarding the scope of the investigative plan:
1. It is important that all potential sources of constituents of concern be thoroughly characterized and understood in order that any final corrective action plan be effective in preventing future pollution of groundwater and surface water resources associated with Herrington Lake. Site characterization must be driven by identif-
ication of each potential source of contamination, adequate characterization of the pathways through which such constituents are transported both in surface and groundwaters from each source, and both the point and diffuse surface and subsurface points of discharge of such constituents.
Additionally, the efficacy of those interim measures undertaken to date, such as construction of the special waste landfill over the footprint of most of the Main Pond as a “cap” over the pond, in terms of reducing the flow of contaminated leachate from the pond, should be analyzed in order to determine whether the proposed abatement measures achieved the intended result and if not, whether the assumptions underlying the proposed interim remedial measure and corrective action steps need adjustment. As the Investigative Phase Report reflects, it was “expected that these remedial actions (i.e. capping of the main pond) will limit contributions of constituents of interest, including selenium, to Herrington Lake, mostly by preventing water infiltration and recharge of groundwater in target areas.” Confirmatory sampling and analysis is appropriate to determine whether the capping succeeded in achieving these outcomes, or whether notwithstanding implementation of these measures to limit direct infiltration of precipitation, the strength and volume of discharges continues without appreciable abatement.
2. Limiting the focus of any proposed corrective action plan to achieving compliance with categorical of WQS-based limits for surface point discharges of pollutants after treatment or dilution, would not properly reflect that the presence of CCW leachate at any surface or subsurface location outside the waste boundary fairly traceable to either the Main or Auxiliary Pond, would represent a failure of containment under state and federal regulation and a release that is required to be addressed by the applicable special waste and CCR regulations, above and beyond those of the Division of Water governing surface point discharges. The environmental performance standards of the special waste regulations represent an endpoint for regulatory compliance and corrective action, and the continuation of a permit or registered permit by rule under the special waste regulations is premised on remediation of any exceedances of those performance standards. To the extent that a unit is violating 401 KAR 30:031 standards, it ceases to have PBR or RPBR status and becomes an open dump prohibited by law; the further use of is prohibited.
3. To the extent that the agency has not yet done so, the KPDES permit for the facility should be reopened in order to impose sampling and effluent limitations on each CCW constituent of concern (particularly arsenic and selenium) that has been detected by either the agency or the company in any of the outfalls of the existing permit. To allow continued discharge without treatment (other than dilution) of constituents pumped into the Auxiliary Pond such as arsenic and selenium, without monitoring and WQBELs, constitutes a failure of best professional judgment and violates prohibitions of discharges into waters of the Commonwealth.
4. The fate, transport, exposure and bioconcentration of selenium that is collected from the Toe Drain and discharged through the Auxiliary Pond should be evaluated both in setting discharge limits for the KPDES permit and in determining the appropriate strategies for limiting and ultimately eliminating such discharges as part of the final corrective action plan.
5. All sources of potential constituents of concern need to be included, including not only CCR management and disposal sites and facilities such as the Main and Auxiliary Ash Pond, but also any location where raw coal has been handled or where it has been stored. All such locations are a potential source of leachable constituents of concern, so that all of the leachate pathways from any storage and handling of raw coal must be evaluated. As early as 1978, EPA identified runoff from coal storage areas as being significant contributors to elevated levels of selenium, COD, and other constituents of concern. Source Assessment: Water Pollutants from Coal Storage Areas, EPA 600/2-78-400m.
6. A mass loading analysis of arsenic and selenium must be conducted. The sources of arsenic and selenium must be identified and abated, and the current “treatment” approach of pumping contaminated wastewaters into the Auxiliary Pond where no apparent treatment other than dilution occurs prior to discharge through a KPDES outfall must be replaced with appropriate treatment in order to reduce the loading into Herrington Lake, and to eliminate such loading as an endpoint. Identification of the individual sources of the pollutants and abatement of the sources is more critical than extensive testing of receiving waters that have already been determined to contain elevated levels of constituents causing adverse impacts on aquatic species.
7. The Council questions why the corrective action plan, including investigative phase actions, for the Auxiliary Pond, was established on a timeline different from the investigative phase and corrective action plan for the remainder of the Brown facility property. Irrespective of the staying of the effective date of the EPA guidelines, the Agreed Order and the now-effective EPA CCR rules require closure of wastewater ponds that cannot demonstrate compliance with performance based goals. The available information suggests that leakage from the Auxiliary Pond may be contributing to elevated levels of constituents of concern through point and nonpoint discharges from surface and subsurface pathways associated with the Pond, requiring consideration of closure of the pond and diversion of the waste and wastewater treatment to appropriate facilities. KRC respectfully requests that the investigate phase of the corrective action plan be expanded to isolate and verify the contribution, if any, of the Auxiliary Pond to the elevated levels of constituents of concern in HQ inlet and elsewhere down-catchment, and that further discharges into the Auxiliary Pond be prohibited absent pretreatment in order to assure that releases from the pond into land and water resources, are not contributing to the current violations of water quality standards identified in the Lake.
8. Inasmuch as the revisions to the narrative concerning whether the Toe Drain is intercepting discharges to the HQ inlet have been revised as suggested by the agency, the question is raised as to the source, pathways, and discharge characteristics of the elevated levels of constituents of concern in HQ inlet. Focus should be on characterization of the sources and of isolating and remediating those sources of constituents of concern, rather than on sampling of receiving waters downstream of such discharges.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of these comments.