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VIRGINIA POWER SUPPORTS EXPERIMENT TO USE FLY ASH TO RECLAIM MINED LAND

VIRGINIA POWER SUPPORTS EXPERIMENT TO USE FLY ASH TO RECLAIM MINED LAND
 RICHMOND, Va., June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- With support from Virginia Power, environmental scientists have launched an experiment that may prove fly ash from power plants can play a key role in fighting pollution and reclaiming mined land in the Appalachian coal fields.
 The project will determine if power plant ash can be used as a neutralizer to block the formation of acid in refuse piles from underground mines and in abandoned surface mining sites. Preliminary laboratory studies by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University researchers indicate fly ash is an effective neutralizing agent and has the potential to block acid formation and runoff in sites covered by coal waste.
 Dr. W. Lee Daniels, an associate professor in Virginia Tech's Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, is directing the project.
 If further studies by Dr. Daniels and his associates confirm the project's initial findings, railroad cars that haul fuel to power plants might make return trips to the coal fields carrying pollution-fighting ash. Thousands of acres in southwestern Virginia and throughout Appalachia are covered with sulfer-laden coal waste material. Water leaching through untreated sites can produce sulfuric acid, pick up toxic amounts of metals and other substances, and damage streams, groundwater and soil quality.
 State and federal regulations require mine operators to treat disposal sites, but existing methods are either very costly or not completely effective in neutralizing leahates. The ash treatment may be cheaper and produce better environmental results for mine operators than existing options, such as applications of lime, limestone or rock phosphate.
 Using ash as a treatment material may also help hold down the cost of electricity by giving utilities a less costly alternative for disposing of the material. In most cases, coal ash is now placed in regulated landfills or ash disposal ponds. Fly ash is made up of fine particles produced during coal burning; the particles are captured by pollution control equipment before they can be released into the atmosphere.
 Six tons of ash from Virginia Power's Chesterfield Power Station have been shipped to Wise County, Va., for use by Dr. Daniels and his associates in field studies. The ash has been mixed with coal waste at a site near the Westmoreland Coal Co.'s Pine Branch Mine near Norton, Va. Ash from other sources will be tested at several other mining sites in Virginia and West Virginia. Dr. Daniels and his associates will evaluate each material's effectiveness in blocking acid formation in mine waste.
 Dr. Daniels and his researchers are also using ash from several other Virginia Power facilities in their laboratory studies. Scientists analyze the chemical content of water which has passed through tubes of ash and coal waste mixtures.
 "Dr. Daniels' findings indicate that coal ash, considered by some to be an environmental problem, could actually play a major role in preventing pollution," said John A. Ahladas, Virginia Power senior vice president-Corporate Services. "Additionally, the findings could benefit our customers by giving us an economical new option for the disposal of coal ash."
 The project is also receiving support from other private companies, from the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology, and from the Powell River Project, a research and education program sponsored by numerous industries and government agencies in central Appalachia.
 -0- 6/26/92
 /CONTACT: William H. Byrd, Virginia Power, 804-771-6115/ CO: Virginia Power ST: Virginia IN: UTI MNG SU: JVN


CM -- CH003 -- 4221 06/26/92 12:24 EDT
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Date:Jun 26, 1992
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