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From Power Plant to Peanut Production


September 06, 2017   By Susan Jackson in Environmental Stewardship

Gypsum produced at a Santee Cooper generating station is applied to peanut plants at a farm in Orangeburg County.

Synthetic gypsum is formed when fossil-fueled power plants use their flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) systems to remove sulfur dioxide from the stack gases.

Using a process referred to as “scrubbing,” stack gases are fed through calcium carbonate (i.e. limestone) to eliminate impurities and environmental concerns. When the sulfur dioxide is removed, synthetic gypsum is formed.

The majority of the synthetic gypsum at Santee Cooper’s Cross Generating Station was dewatered and trucked to a wallboard facility where it is used to make drywall. However, some of the synthetic gypsum wasn’t able to be dewatered so it had been sent to a lined wastewater pond.

In 2016, Santee Cooper began excavating this quality gypsum from the pond and stacking it in large stockpiles. After allowing it to dry naturally and extensive testing, it was decided that this gypsum could be used for agriculture. After receiving approval from the S.C.... Continue Reading >>

Lowering carbon emissions: a proposal


July 19, 2017   By Jay Hudson in Environmental Stewardship

Santee Cooper’s Cross Generating in Berkeley County is the state-owned utility’s largest power plant and an important source of electricity for its customers and those served by electric cooperatives.

The administration’s regulatory reform agenda  includes a rework of the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s proposal to lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at existing coal-fired power plants. The rule is currently being revised and will be published in the Federal Register in the coming months. 

One item that will likely be included is lowering CO2 emissions at existing plants by making them more efficient. The process is simple. The creation of CO2 is the result of burning fuel. Carbon-based coal burned in the presence of excess oxygen creates carbon dioxide. If the same amount of power can be produced while burning less fuel, less CO2 will be produced. 

The issue in the past has been when efficiency projects are proposed, they usually trigger what the Clean Air Act terms “New Source Review” or NSR. This is a lengthy state and federal permitting process where, in order to make a coal-fired unit more... Continue Reading >>

Brewing Up New Ideas to Save the Environment


June 28, 2017   By Aaron Grant, Summer Intern in Environmental Stewardship

Companies are looking for innovative ways to help the environment, like replacing these plastic can holders with biodegradable ones.

With more and more knowledge of our impact on the environment emerging to the surface every day, it is becoming increasingly evident that steps need to be taken in the direction of environmental friendliness.  

When the general population is first being exposed to ways in which they can improve the environment, they are bombarded with the cliché phrase “DO NOT LITTER!” But the fact of the matter is, no matter the extent to which one tries to avoid littering, some garbage will always find its way into our environment, one way or another.

Now let’s not get our grocery bags in a wad here. Litter can and will be drastically decreased with the committed efforts of the population. But for the hopeless trash that is already lost at sea, it is companies like the Saltwater Brewery Company that are making a difference.

Cracking a cold one has never been more environmentally friendly. This crafty beer company has... Continue Reading >>

Practical considerations of recycling


June 14, 2017   By Elizabeth Kress in Environmental Stewardship
Berkeley County government has recently formed a group called “Keep Berkeley Beautiful.”

This group works to reduce litter, beautify the county, and increase recycling. I joined the group and our motto is “Fight Ugly with Us.” Click here to see their Facebook page. Education on how recycling really works is an important step to increasing recycling. Some places even have a “master recycler” program to train people to recycle in a smarter way.

Let’s start at the beginning with a few of the items that are commonly able to be recycled, and then we’ll discuss the current situation locally.

Plastic containers of types 1 to 7 are numbered that way to help with recycling Paper, including newspaper and mixed office paper, including paperboard. Cardboard- in recycling, this category is for the special strong cardboard that is used in corrugated boxes and packaging. Textiles and clothing – check... Continue Reading >>

EPA reconsiders rules


May 17, 2017   By Jay Hudson in Environmental Stewardship
Just last month, the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to reconsider the Effluent Limitations Guidelines Rule for Steam Electric Generators.

This rule, which was made final in 2015 and was to take effect after 2019, would lower the water discharge limits primarily for coal-fired power stations. This reconsideration was part of the new administration’s regulatory reform agenda, which I discussed in an April 5 blog .

There is little question that these guidelines need updating. But there is considerable industry opinion that this rule perhaps went overboard in requiring very restrictive limits for some waste streams that may not even be achievable at this time – even with the best available technology.  As a further example, power effluent limits were set at less than one-tenth of the metal limits of hazardous waste incinerators.

For example, metal limits were set such that the only way to achieve them was to use some... Continue Reading >>