Setting the Record Straight: About Arrowhead Landfill and the Disposal of Coal Ash at the Facility

Official Statement from Green Group Holdings

Published: August 25, 2014

Recently, media reports have appeared on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Civil Rights investigation of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and its permitting processes. Many of these reports have included some erroneous claims about Arrowhead Landfill and its disposal of coal ash.

Because Arrowhead takes great pride in our dedication to maintaining the highest standards of environmental and operational safety, we felt it important to set the record straight on a few issues.

First, it has been suggested in some media reports that coal ash was stored at Arrowhead without a protective liner in place. In fact, Arrowhead, like any modern landfill, features a highly engineered liner system with not one, but two liners: a compacted clay composite liner and a polyethylene geomembrane liner.

Others have asserted that the storage of coal ash at Arrowhead risks the contamination of nearby groundwater, or that it is stored in areas where water is not monitored. In fact, at Arrowhead, there is extremely little risk of exposure to groundwater. In addition to its liner system and an extensive leachate collection and removal system, the landfill is located over one of the most impermeable naturally occurring clay formations in North America. More than five hundred feet of Selma Chalk provide an added layer of protection between the lined facility and the groundwater, making Arrowhead one of the most environmentally secure disposal facilities in the nation.

Arrowhead’s multiple layers of groundwater protection remove rainwater and liquid from the waste within the liner system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The groundwater monitoring and methane gas detection systems that are in place onsite confirm that these environmental control systems are performing properly.

Finally, some have questioned the safety and operational procedures of Arrowhead’s transport and disposal of coal ash from Tennessee in 2009-10 following the Kingston Fossil Plant spill. The coal ash Arrowhead received from Tennessee was transported to Arrowhead by rail.  It was shipped with a moisture content above 20% and covered en route to mitigate dust. It was then disposed of in a way that meets the federal and state requirements for coal ash disposal in both Alabama and Tennessee.

According to a letter from the EPA Region 4 office dated April 9, 2014, after an extensive analysis in 2009, the EPA found that Arrowhead “met or exceeded all of the technical requirements set forth by the EPA to ensure that such disposal was protective of human health and the environment. Specifically, the landfill conducted regular groundwater monitoring and was equipped with a compacted clay composite liner, a polyethylene geomembrane liner, a leachate collection system and a protective buffer surrounding the property.”

Due to the publicity surrounding its acceptance of CCR from Kingston, Arrowhead Landfill has been one of the most heavily inspected landfills by both ADEM and the EPA in the state of Alabama, and no violations of any of its various permits have been reported to date.

For more information, please contact Emily Torgerson at 512.288.4054

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