Date of Award

5-10-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geosciences

First Advisor

Nadine Kabengi

Second Advisor

Luke Pangle

Third Advisor

Dajun Dai

Abstract

Half of all the coal ash produced in the United States is stored in coal ash ponds. Coal ash contains a variety of toxic contaminants, which can contaminate nearby water resources. Georgia has a total of eight coal power plants, both active and retired, which all have unlined ash ponds without any leachate removal system to prevent groundwater contamination. This research analyzes publicly available water quality data from Coal Ash Pond Groundwater monitoring reports and focuses on Plant Scherer, Plant Wansley, and Plant Yates within the Piedmont Geographic Province. Contaminant concentration patterns and their flow paths suggests that some of the higher levels are coming from surface infiltration of dry coal ash surrounding the pond, as opposed to leaching from the pond itself. This finding raises questions regarding developing practical solutions and best practices that needs to be put in place to prevent groundwater contamination in unlined coal ash ponds.

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