Pleasants Power Station McElroy's Run Embankment

From Global Energy Monitor

Pleasants Power Station McElroy's Run Embankment is a coal ash disposal site associated with Pleasants Power Station, owned and operated by Allegheny Energy near Willow Island, West Virginia.

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Site data

Information below derived from EPA's Coal Ash Survey database;[1] GPS coordinates courtesy of Earthjustice researchers.

  • Owner: Allegheny Energy Supply Company
  • Parent company: Allegheny Energy
  • Associated coal plant: Pleasants Power Station
  • Location: Willow Island, WV
  • GPS coordinates: 39.3700, -81.3000
  • Hazard potential: High
  • Year commissioned: 1978
  • Year(s) expanded:
  • Material(s) stored: Fly ash, Bottom ash,FGD
  • Professional Engineer (PE) designed?: Yes
  • PE constructed?: Yes
  • PE monitored?: Yes
  • Significant deficiencies identified: None
  • Corrective measures: None
  • Surface area (acres): 219
  • Storage capacity (acre feet): Not listed
  • Unit Height (feet): 233
  • Historical releases: None
  • Additional notes:

"High Hazard" Surface Impoundment

The Pleasants Power Station McElroy's Run Embankment is on the EPA's official June 2009 list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not assess of the likelihood of such an event.[2]

Toxic Waste Data [3]

  • Arsenic Waste: 58,898 pounds
    • Air Release: 470 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 28 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 53,400 pounds
  • Chromium Waste: 87,876 pounds
    • Air Release: 651 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 26 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 87,200 pounds
  • Dioxin Waste: .631 grams
    • Air Release: .631 grams
  • Lead Waste: 51,532 pounds
    • Air Release: 609 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 49,010 pounds
    • Recycling (Metals Recovery): 1,910 pounds
  • Mercury Waste: 818 pounds
    • Air Release: 281 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 274 pounds
    • Recycling (Metals Recovery): 262 pounds
  • Nickel Waste: 73,633 pounds
    • Air Release: 630 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 680 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 72,300 pounds
    • Recycling (Metals Recovery): 23 pounds
  • Selenium Waste: 19,710 pounds
    • Air Release: 3,600 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 110 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 16,000 pounds

Coal waste in the United States

A January 2009 study by The New York Times following the enormous TVA coal ash spill found that there are more than 1,300 surface impoundments across the U.S. containing coal waste, with some sites as large as 1,500 acres.[4] Also in January 2009, an Associated Press study found that 156 coal-fired power plants store ash in surface ponds similar to the one that ruptured at Kingston Fossil Plant. The states with the most storage in coal ash in ponds are Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama. The AP's analysis found that in 2005, 721 power plants generating at least 100 MW of electricity produced 95.8 million tons of coal ash, about 20 percent of which - or almost 20 million tons - ended up in surface ponds. The rest of the ash winds up in landfills or is sold for other uses.[5] In June 2009, EPA released its list of 44 "high hazard potential" coal waste sites, which included 12 sites in North Carolina, 9 in Arizona, 6 in Kentucky, 6 in Ohio, and 4 in West Virginia.[6] The full list is available here.

Citizen groups



  1. Coal Ash Survey Results, Environmental Protection Agency, accessed December 2009.
  2. Coal waste
  3. Environmental Protection Agency. "Toxic Release Inventory: Pleasants (Willow Island) Plant Data". Right to Know Network.
  4. Shaila Dewan, "Hundreds of Coal Ash Dumps Lack Regulation," New York Times, January 7, 2009.
  5. Dina Cappiello, "Toxic Coal Ash Piling up in Ponds in 32 States," Associated Press, January 9, 2009.
  6. Shaila Dewan, "E.P.A. Lists ‘High Hazard’ Coal Ash Dumps," New York Times, June 30, 2009.

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