3 key takeaways from the 2019 World of Coal Ash

The World of Coal Ash (WOCA) conference was a meeting of the brightest minds in the coal ash world, with more than 1,000 scientists, engineers, regulators and representatives from various industries taking an in-depth look at the future of coal ash. Looking back on the event, these are the ideas and insights that resonated the most.

  1. 1. Growing demand for groundwater work
  2. Storage of coal combustion residuals (CCR) and their effect on groundwater was featured in many speaker sessions and conversations I had on the floor. My colleagues Matthew Schnobrich, Jennifer Tilton, Margaret Gentile and Michael Hay all presented on groundwater and environmental issues, and the follow up attendee questions and conversations these presentations sparked proved invaluable. They really enriched our understanding of the potential groundwater treatment challenges our clients are facing.

    As the industry moves from delineation of impacts to assessment of corrective measures and pond closures, groundwater modeling and remediation approaches for CCR constituents will be in great demand. These projects will require an emphasis on innovation and strategic thinking to maximize success on coal ash management projects.

    This increase in remediation work could tighten the labor market for professionals with these specialized skills who can design, manage, and implement CCR projects successfully. Forward-looking companies must anticipate this need and prioritize these skills when recruiting and retaining staff.

  3. 2. Rapidly developing technology will help
  4. Fortunately, there are innovative tools and applications in development that will help with the increased groundwater modeling and remediation demand. Also, rapidly developing digital tools, such as data analytics, could enhance how we characterize and develop strategies for facilities affected by the long-term disposal of coal ash.

    It’s vital for companies to explore these technologies’ potential. These solutions have revolutionized other industries, and we shouldn’t hesitate to unleash that potential on the power sector.

  5. 3. Bigger and better beneficiation efforts
  6. Beneficiation stood out as a focus throughout WOCA, with many discussions centered on improved commercial processes and gasification products that could bolster coal ash recycling efforts.

    We all share a responsibility to minimize environmental impact and make the most of coal ash, and it was encouraging to see industry leaders carrying the torch to guide that mission. I’m eager to see what the rest of the year has in store for coal ash — and am especially excited to hear all about our progress at WOCA 2021!

Rick Kenter

Vice President 513 985 8034 Ask me a question
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