Rockaway, NJ – 7/15/15  The underground is the most complex environment in construction, and coal ash ponds are no exception. By now, everyone is aware of the recent CCR ruling, which provided technical requirements for CCR landfills and surface impoundment closures. The ruling also created an additional challenge to pond closures – a fixed deadline with significant penalties for non-compliance. Moretrench has been involved in ash pond closures for decades, and has been able to provide a unique perspective to power companies and engineers struggling to find realistic solutions to this growing issue.

Moretrench has pioneered some of the industry’s most important underground advancements for well over 100 years, and has more experience with the complexities of the underground than any other firm operating today. This wealth of experience allows their team to provide a detailed, highly-qualified view of ash ponds that most people in the industry don’t have access to–from understanding the varied make up of the pond contents and its impact on stability to what closure methods are most beneficial to a particular pond.

“The number one thing that owners and engineers need to know is that they have options,” said Paul Schmall, VP of Engineering at Moretrench. “Panic starts to set in as companies see these deadlines announced and the size of the penalties involved, but there is still time and more importantly, they have choices, depending on the specifics of their pond. This base understanding is a huge benefit that Moretrench has been able to provide.”


To comply with EPA-mandated regulations for the closure of coal ash impoundments, ash drainage is required for either clean closure or cap in place to safely execute closure plans. Water treatment, perimeter cutoff barriers, and dam/levee rehabilitation will also be necessary for the compliant closure of most ponds. Moretrench’s experience in the underground, stabilizing ash and industrial by-product means their engineering and operations teams are able to work closely with owners, engineers and general contractors to develop and implement plant-specific closure plans.


Ash ponds can vary greatly, depending on the type of coal burned, boiler performance, method of ash transportation, deposition at the pond, subsurface soils, and general pond size, shape and settlement profile. Conditions can also vary widely within each individual pond. Grain-size will vary from coarse to fine between the deposition point and the outfall. Accurate determination of the hydrogeological behavior of the pond by pilot testing is therefore critical to an early and effective resolution.

The Moretrench pilot dewatering program goes hand-in-hand with the geotechnical site investigation. It will reveal vital information on the properties and behavior of the ash and if relevant, the underlying soil. This will assist the design of the dewatering program – whether deep wells or wellpoints are required, the number and depth of installation and the arrangement of the dewatering devices. Defining the personality of a pond is the key to determining a plan of action.

“Some of these ponds are incredibly deep and all of them have complex hydrogeological conditions,” Chris Colangelo, a Moretrench Senior Engineer offered, “By first understanding what we’re looking at, we can give owners, engineers and GCs a realistic picture of what they’re up against.”


The collective experience of the Moretrench team is uniquely qualified to help manage the complexity of these pond closures. Their engineering-first approach combined with unmatched dewatering experience and a multitude of geo-technical solutions means that Moretrench is able to examine an ash pond, fully communicate the intricacies and implications of the various closure methods, and also provide the solution that will be most effective for each particular pond.  As this issue continues to grow in relevance to the industry, Moretrench will be sharing their expertise and knowledge on their newly developed hub for Ash Pond Services:


For over 100 years, Moretrench has pioneered some of the industry’s most important advancements, and that spirit of leadership has driven the company ever since. By being innovators underground, Moretrench has experienced more situations and has dealt with more complexities than anyone in the industry. That experience drives everything they do, from the way they look at projects, to the services they provide, all the way to the people they choose to hire and partner with. When it comes to the complexities of underground construction, no one has seen more than Moretrench.

For more information about Moretrench or ash pond closures, contact Chris Colangelo, or 973-627-2100 x 210.