Duke Energy to recycle ash at Goldsboro power plant

The coal ash basin at the H.F. Lee power plant near Goldsboro
The coal ash basin at the H.F. Lee power plant near Goldsboro

Duke Energy will build a facility to recycle coal ash at its H.F. Lee power plant near Goldsboro instead of burying the ash in a former clay mine in Lee County.

Ash will be processed for use as an ingredient in making concrete, a use the concrete industry and legislators have pushed Duke to make. Reprocessing the ash will reduce its high carbon content, which makes much of Duke’s unusable in concrete.

Duke had announced last year that Lee’s 6 million tons of ash would be excavated and dumped in the former Colon mine, a move that advocates in Lee County fought. The mine remains a contingency site for ash, Duke said.

In September, flooding from Hurricane Matthew opened a 50-foot break in a cooling water pond at the Lee plant. Duke later reported that material including ash was washed out of an ash basin, but said no measurable amounts reached the Neuse River.

The Lee plant’s proximity to concrete markets, its volume and quality of ash and a 2028 deadline to close its ash basins figured into the decision to build the reprocessing facility, Duke said.

Most of the ash at the power plant can be reprocessed by the deadline, Duke said, and any remaining ash will be stored off-site.

State law requires Duke to identify three sites across the state for ash recycling projects, making 900,000 or more tons of material available each year, with two of them to be announced by Jan. 1. In October, Duke said it would reprocess ash from its Buck power plant near Salisbury.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender