$16 Million Storage System Helps Consumers Energy's Campbell Plant Protect Environment

Apr 3, 2018 10:55 AM ET

Consumers Energy recently completed construction of a $16 million concrete tank system to process and collect bottom ash at the Campbell generating plant on the shore of Lake Michigan near Holland.

The five-tank system helps protect groundwater and promote beneficial reuse of about 50,000 tons of coal ash generated by Campbell’s three coal-fired units each year.

“This is a major leap forward in groundwater protection,” said Brad Runkel, supervisor of the company’s Coal Combustion Residuals group.

Burning coal to generate electricity produces coal ash, also commonly known as coal combustion residuals (CCRs). Ash collected at the bottom of the plant’s boilers traditionally has been “sluiced” and piped to storage ponds at the site.

Now, the “bottom ash” will be sent to the five concrete tanks, which are capable of holding nearly 2 million gallons of water — enough to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

After settling in the tanks, the bottom ash is removed several times each week and recycled, often for use in making concrete. Meanwhile, the water drained from the ash is monitored at multiple stages as it’s treated and discharged.

The concrete tanks will replace four bottom ash storage ponds at the site.

“This is the right thing to do for Michigan,” project manager Aaron Davis said. “We’re providing customer value and protecting the environment.”