Environmental progress in Jasper County brings company one-step closer to station retirement
MERRILLVILLE – NIPSCO plans to begin work, following approval from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), to close three coal ash ponds at the company’s R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield. The approval process includes the opportunity for public comment..
As part of the public comment and participation process, NIPSCO will present the results of an assessment of groundwater corrective measures and make a recommendation for a final remedy. Protecting human health and the environment is vital, and this assessment is a protective standard requirement by state and federal agencies.
Coal ash is the leftover material that remains when coal is burned to generate electricity – similar to the leftover material when wood is burned in a fire. Historically, for the ash material that was not repurposed or recycled for other uses – such as common building materials and content used in road construction – it was enclosed or stored in onsite ponds. This was a consistent practice across the industry.
NIPSCO plans to remove the coal ash material from the station’s onsite ponds and replace it with clean fill, which meets the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule. The CCR rule was designed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the safe disposal and management of coal ash at coal-fired electric generating stations across the nation, including a focus on groundwater quality. NIPSCO has performed an extensive study of potential ground water remedies as well as a long-term ground water monitoring plan.
In addition to meeting the requirements of the CCR rule, the pond closures are another step forward in advance of NIPSCO’s plans to retire 100 percent of its remaining coal-fired generation by 2026-2028 and transition to a more balanced and reliable energy mix – including lower-cost and cleaner energy sources such as wind, solar and battery storage technology.
The pond closures will not directly impact operations of the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station. Coal ash removed during the project will be transported to an IDEM approved landfill located on R.M. Schahfer Generating Station’s property.
The public has an opportunity to participate and learn more about NIPSCO’s ash pond closure plans via a virtual public meeting that will be held on Thursday, September 29 at 6 p.m. EST.
NIPSCO Ash Pond Closure Plan
Information for the meeting is posted on the company’s website at www.NIPSCO.com/environment
NIPSCO representatives will be available to answer questions on the closure plan, following an overview presentation of the plan. Please note that during the meeting, questions can be asked by typing them into the Q&A box during the virtual meeting, or they can be emailed in advance of the meeting to NIPSCO_Environmental@nisource.com
For those unable to join the meeting, comments can be submitted directly to IDEM, by October 29th, 2022, to KRGarve@idem.IN.gov. –or- mail submittals can be sent to:
Kate Garvey, Environmental Manager
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Solid Waste Permits
100 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2251
NIPSCO will continue to work with IDEM to ensure the closure plans comply with all state and federal requirements, and coordinate with local Jasper County officials to minimize disruption from work activity throughout the duration of the project. IDEM will be present at the virtual public meeting and a copy of the presentation will be available to the public at 4 p.m. EST on Sept. 27 and accessible at NIPSCO.com/environment.