Agency Seeks Comments on Duke Disposal Wells

Duke Energy Indiana of Plainfield, Ind., has applied for federal permits to construct eight underground injection wells at its plant just south of Edwardsport. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined the disposal wells do not pose a threat to underground sources of drinking water and proposes to approve the permits. EPA asks the public to comment on them by Jan. 15, 2009.

The draft permit is available for review at Bicknell-Vigo Township Public Library, 201 W. Second St. or online at http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/uic/uicpub.htm.

The company plans to install eight wells initially to inject fresh water into geologic formations deep below the surface. The company plans to use the same wells in the future to dispose of liquid waste called "blowdown waste" that is a byproduct of the process known as "gasification," which essentially burns coal in order to create a gas. The gas then fuels turbines that generate electricity.

EPA is reviewing information to determine if liquid blowdown waste is a hazardous waste. If EPA determines it is not, it plans to modify the permits to allow its disposal in the wells and will hold a public comment period on that proposed modification. If EPA determines the waste is hazardous, Duke Energy will need to apply for new permits to inject the waste.

Duke Energy's Edwardsport plant is called an "integrated coal gasification combined cycle plant." It is considered an example of clean coal technology, which uses coal to produce electricity without releasing harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

To submit comments or request a public hearing, contact William Bates, EPA Region 5 (WU-16J), 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604-3590 or send e-mail tobates.william@epa.gov

More information about underground injection wells is available on EPA's Web site: http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/uic/index.htm

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