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City officials continue to monitor power plant pond

After some environmental concerns, Columbia Water and Light continues to test the safety of a city pond. An EPA assessment still has the city monitoring the coal ash pond near its Business Loop power plant.

Columbia Water and Light said the power plant uses the pond as a settling pond for coal ash. The pond has been in the area for over 100 years. “This is something that’s been around since the 1800s. We’ve been using it since the 1950s but we didn’t have any construction details because it was built so long ago,” said Connie Kacprowicz with Columbia Water and Light.

In a 2012 assessment, the EPA said not having construction plans for the pond is a problem because the city can’t ensure the pond’s dam can actually contain the polluted water. The assessment prompted the city to launch an investigation. Columbia Water and Light said after ground tests of the dam, engineers found it to be structurally sound and safe.

Columbia Water and Light said it’s still waiting on the results from a hydrological test. “What we’re doing is we’re taking samples from the bottom to see how it’s lined. See whether any of that can infiltrate into the ground as well as making sure it can’t flow over the top,” said Kacprowicz.

The EPA also said Columbia Water and Light should have maintenance procedures for the pond. Columbia Water and Light said it’s been doing maintenance over the years, but is now working with engineers to draw up formal plans.

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