Illinois proposes stricter rules for coal combustion residual surface impoundments

Environmental compliance guidelines on how coal-fired power plant surface impoundments treat, store or dispose of coal combustion residuals (CCR) have been in flux for the past five years in Illinois. Hanson has extensive knowledge and involvement with the management of CCR from power-generating facilities and has been preparing for the forthcoming changes in the industry.

On Dec. 11, 2019, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) released its draft rules, which present requirements for the disposal of CCR in surface impoundments throughout Illinois. Several sections of the newly introduced Title 35 of the Illinois Administrative Code, Part 845 comply with the federal rules promogulated in 2015 as 40 Code of Federal Regulations Part 257. However, there are a few differences proposed, making it tougher on power companies to keep up with the latest CCR management requirements.

The main takeaway of the draft rules is that IEPA is striving to make all Illinois CCR surface impoundments uniformly lined to eliminate open dumps and protect the environment and its residents from potentially adverse health effects. This is good news for surface impoundments constructed in accordance with the new standards. However, CCR surface impoundments that are considered unlined as defined in Part 845 must be closed or retrofitted. These closure/retrofit requirements cascade into another spectrum of requirements, including a closure prioritization evaluation and providing clear guidelines on how to proceed, based on the site’s assessment.

Other changes include:

  • Additional design criteria for leachate collection and removal system installation for new impoundments
  • More rigorous requirements for inspections
  • Emergency action plans
  • Health and safety plans for all CCR surface impoundments

The draft also states that all required documentation must be certified by a qualified professional engineer before submittal to the agency for approval. Any actions on the CCR surface impoundment, whether it is a corrective action plan, closure plan or any necessary permitting applications listed in Part 845, must be approved by the agency before the actions described can begin.

The resulting changes to the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and the proposed Illinois CCR impoundment rules would affect power generation in the state. The proposed Part 845 rules are going through stakeholder and public comment review but are required to be submitted for rulemaking at the Illinois Pollution Control Board no later than March 31.

With our prior experience in design, construction, closure plans, long-term monitoring and more, Hanson is ready to work with our clients through the implementation of Illinois’ CCR impoundment rules. Contact Dori Glod at for more information.