Up for irony? Duke Energy used recycled coal ash known as fly ash in the concrete its own sparkling headquarters, while the nation s largest electric company dumped coal ash in ponds one of which spilled into the Dan River.

While Duke Energy scrambles to plan for the long term disposal of more than 100 million tons of coal ash dumped in ponds and landfills, the concrete industry can t get enough ash in North Carolina and is forced to import it from surrounding states.

So we want it and we need it, we just can t get it, said Henry Batten, the President of Concrete Supply Company, a Charlotte concrete manufacturer.

Earlier this week Duke Energy s NC President Paul Newton told lawmakers Duke puts about two-thirds of its coal ash to beneficial reuse such as making pipe, gypsum and concrete. But ash dumped in ponds or lagoons is more problematic and expensive because it requires treatment before it can be used in concrete manufacturing.

Dry ash is more suitable to beneficial reuse, such as concrete, according to Duke Energy spokeswoman Lisa Hoffmann. She said Duke is planning to step up its use of carbon separation technology burning the coal ash and reprocessing it to make it usable in concrete.

That is already happening in South Carolina at SCE&G s Wateree plant near Columbia and at Santee Cooper s former coal ash ponds near Charleston.

Concrete producers like Henry Batten would like to see North Carolina turn Duke Energy s waste into a valuable product and stop importing the fine ash known in the industry as fly ash the fine powder that makes up an estimated 80% of Duke s ash waste stream.

It s a huge asset, said Batten. We put it in concrete and it has absolutely no environmental impact whatsoever; it s encapsulated.

The EPA has recommended concrete production as a best practice for disposal of coal ash.

I'd love to see North Carolina export ash to Florida, Georgia, Virginia,

said Batten. I mean I think we can do it.

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