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Coal Ash in Alaska

Lindsey Hajduk

What is Coal Ash?
  • Coal ash is a dangerous by-product of burning coal, containing toxins like arsenic, barium, cadmium, and selenium. 
  • “Coal ash” is a common name for coal combustion waste, which includes fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag and more.
The State of Alaska’s Waste
Interior Alaska has six coal-fired power plants which collectively produce 136 megawatts (MW) of electric power.  The plants are relatively small compared to the Lower 48, but significantly impact their surroundings.
In Alaska this dirty coal waste is officially referred to as Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCB) and receives very little State oversight in its disposal and/or reuse.
  • All on-site landfills are unlined, which often leads to widespread groundwater contamination. 
  • For over 47 years, the UAF plant produces 1-2 dump truck loads of coal ash daily. Until just a few years ago this waste material was used on campus as fill for construction projects, road construction, soccer field fill, under parking lots, and traction on icy roads and sidewalks.
The Aurora and UAF power plants sell their coal ash to a private contractor.  Some waste is used as fill in pits after peat and gravel mining just outside Fairbanks, possibly near Creamer’s Field Wildlife Refuge, an integral resting habitat for migratory waterfowl. 
  • Beyond Coal


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