Public invited to hear more on coal ash removal, truck routes

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By Stan Welch/David Meade

For decades, the W.S. Lee Steam Plant burned coal to produce electricity. The waste product from that process, coal ash, was stored in holding ponds on the site. Duke Energy, in partnership with Waste Management, will begin removing more than three million tons of that coal ash in mid May.

The ash would be relocated by truck to Waste Management’s R&B Landfill, a fully lined and permitted solid waste disposal facility, in Homer, Ga.

To explain the project, which is expected to take approximately three years, and to answer the public’s questions, Duke Energy is hosting an open house next Thursday, May 7 at the Williamston Municipal Center. The hours are from 4:30 p.m. untll 7:30 p.m. Bus tours to the plant will be available as well.

Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier said that the energy giant understands that the project will be highly visible, but every effort is being made to reduce the impact on the community.

Each of the newly purchased side-dump trucks will be fully covered with a tight tarpaulin, and will go through a wheel wash before each trip from the steam plant to the lined landfill in Georgia.

Residents of Williamston, Pelzer, West Pelzer, Piedmont and surrounding areas including Cheddar and South Greenville, will be impacted by the additional traffic.

Waste Management has allocated 50 trucks for the project.

There will be an inbound route and an outbound route with a morning route from staging and fuel area to W. S. Lee and an evening route from I-85 to the staging and fuel area in Cheddar.

A parking site for staging has been prepared at the O’Dell Oil facility in Belton, where the trucks will fuel up each day before beginning their trips.

The trucks will leave from both O’Dell Oil and the plant in a timed manner to avoid congestion along the routes, Duke officials said.

Maps and information about the proposed truck routes into and out of the plant will be available at the open house.

There are six potential routes and public input into those routes is encouraged, said Mosier.

While approximately 3.4 million tons of coal ash remain at the site, Duke will continue to evaluate alternative methods of disposal, including the possible construction of a lined landfill on site.

Duke Energy has decommissioned two coal burning units at Lee Steam and converted one steam turbine to natural gas.

In 2014, the Public Service Commission of South Carolina approved plans for Duke Energy Carolinas to build and operate a 750-megawatt natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant at the existing W.S. Lee Steam Station.

Duke Energy will begin construction on the new facility in the summer of 2015.

The construction of the new plant is part of a comprehensive, long-term plan to add new generation, modernize the fleet, maintain a diverse fuel portfolio and manage customer costs.

Duke Energy Carolinas has operated the W.S. Lee Steam Station at the site since 1951.

The North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC) will be co-owner of 100 megawatts of the project.

The coal ash removal and construction of the new facility, while totally separate in both nature and execution, will continue to run concurrently.

Site prep is currently underway for the facility that will house the two new combined cycle natural gas turbines, and energy production could begin as early as 2017.

For increased efficiency, the hot exhaust gases from the combustion turbines are used to generate additional power through a steam turbine generator as well. The upgrades would allow the plant to produce twice the energy it did at its peak service to the local textile and manufacturing industries.

Inbound route

• Leave W.S. Lee westbound on Lee Steam Plant Road (right turn from main entrance)

• Proceed northwest to Cannon Bottom Road (SR S-4-116), which becomes Hamilton Street through the town of Willamston

• Turn right onto Highway 20 (Greenville Drive)

• Continue north to Highway 8 (Main Street) and turn left at intersection heading west

• Continue on Highway 8 through the town of West Peltzer to I-85

• Turn left at intersection onto on-ramp heading southbound

Outbound route

• Leave W.S. Lee eastbound on Lee Steam Plant Road (left turn from main entrance)

• Proceed east to Highway 52 (Holland Ford Road/Beech Springs Road) and turn right

• Continue east on Highway 52 to Highway 247 (Belton Highway) and turn left at intersection going northbound

• Continue northeast on Highway 247 to Highway 25 and turn left at intersection

• Keep north on Highway 25 to Highway 86 and turn left at intersection

• Continue on Highway 86 through the town of Piedmont to I-85

• Turn left at intersection onto on-ramp heading southbound

Morning route:

From Staging and Fuel Area to W.S. Lee

• O’Dell Oil right on Sherrard Road

• Sherrard Road left on SC-20

• SC-20 right on Big Creek Road

• Big Creek Road right on Cannon Bottom Road

• Cannon Bottom Road right on Lee Steam Plant Road

• Lee Steam Plant Road right on Lee Steam Plant Access Road

Evening route:

From I-85

to Staging and Fuel Area

• I-85 right on SC-8

• SC 8 right on Midway Road

• Midway Road left on Cherokee Road

• Cherokee Road right onto Chippewa Lane

• To Beaverdam Road

• Beaverdam Road right on SC-20

• SC-20 right on Sherrard Road

Truck Route Maps