Former Conway power plant making use out of waste - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Former Conway power plant making use out of waste

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - It may no longer be in tip-top shape, but in its heyday, Santee Cooper's Grainger facility pumped out electricity to thousands of homes a day.

Now it's closed, but it still has plenty going on behind the scenes. That's because 1.4 million tons of coal ash was left behind from years of burning coal to create power.

“Coal ash contains many toxic components, and we were very concerned and had evidence that the coal ash lagoon was leaking at Santee Cooper,” said Christine Ellis, the former Waccamaw Riverkeeper.

She and others sued Santee Cooper for that coal ash they claimed was seeping into a nearby river. The company did release a plan and says it was in the works long before the lawsuit.

The plan was simple; remove the coal ash and recycle it.

So far, Santee Cooper has removed 260,000 tons of that ash and brought it to a facility in Holly Hill, South Carolina.

There, it is used as raw materials for concrete and cement.

“We found that there were companies that needed the material to use in concrete and cement products,” explained Santee Cooper spokesperson Susan Mungo.

“The plan really was a win-win for everyone,” Christine Ellis said.

Now you can find that same coal ash in things as small as wall board, and as large as Charleston's Ravenel Bridge.

With other companies like Duke Energy finding themselves in lawsuits over the same coal ash issue, Santee Cooper hopes it can continue to lead the pack.

"We were very fortunate that this process fell into place when it did,” said Mungo.

Demolition to the actual facility is scheduled later this year. Coal ash removal is contracted to finish up in 2013, but the plant is on pace to finish in 2020.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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