Apr 22

NIPSCO Begins Work to Remove Ash Ponds at Michigan City Generating Station

Environmental work in compliance with state regulations and
continues steps toward plant closure

April 20, 2022

Merrillville, Ind. – NIPSCO today announced that work to close its five coal ash ponds at the company’s Michigan City Generating Station has begun. Coal ash is the material that remains when coal is burned to generate electricity – similar to the leftover material when wood is burned in a fire. The work that has been outlined will meet the 2023 deadline required by the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule and it is another step forward in the company’s previously announced plans to retire the Michigan City Generating Station.

“Protecting and improving our communities is paramount, and I’m excited to kick-off this next phase of environmental stewardship in Michigan City,” said Kelly Carmichael, vice president of federal government affairs, environmental and sustainability at NIPSCO’s parent company NiSource. “NIPSCO along with a team of nationally leading experts have been focused on assuring that our approach is protective and continues to improve our environment.”

This plan follows a closure by-removal method, which removes the remaining estimated 171,000 cubic yard of coal ash material across 11.4 acres from the station’s five onsite ponds and replaces it with clean fill. An estimated 15 percent of the material being removed is planned to be beneficially reused. The CCR Rule was designed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the safe disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired electric generating stations across the nation, including a focus on groundwater quality.

In addition to meeting requirements of the CCR Rule, the pond closures are another step forward taking place in advance of NIPSCO’s plans to retire 100 percent of its remaining coal-fired generation between 2026 and 2028 and transition to lower-cost, reliable and cleaner energy sources including wind, solar and battery storage technology.

As a longtime member of the Michigan City community, NIPSCO’s focus on protecting human health and the environment has played a vital role in its planning of the ash pond closures. The practice of safely transporting 50,000 tons each year is part of normal operations from the Michigan City Generating Station to a regulated landfill at the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station. Approximately, 14,500 tons of coal ash are also beneficially reused annually. In coordination with IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management), a dust control plan has been established to ensure the safe handling and transportation of the material being moved from the station.

NIPSCO has contracted Charah Solutions as the construction contractor in support of the ash pond closure work. Charah Solutions has 30 years of experience with material handling, along with the technical expertise in the chemical and physical properties of coal ash, which was gathered during the completion of over 400 acres of pond closure projects.

While there are known groundwater impacts – which are in part being addressed by this work – the data collected to date, indicates there is no risk to human health or the environment. There are no impacts to drinking water supplied by neighboring communities.

In addition to stakeholder meetings, updates with City and County officials and public presentations at City Council meetings, NIPSCO held two virtual public meetings in 2020, in coordination with IDEM, to present its plan to close its five ash ponds at the company’s Michigan City Generating Station, which was followed by a public comment period. Following review of the public comments, IDEM issued a permit in March 2021, to authorize NIPSCO to close the ponds.

This project work is expected to last through December of 2022. NIPSCO will continue to work with IDEM to ensure that closure plans comply with all state and federal requirements and will coordinate future work with local Michigan City and LaPorte County officials. NIPSCO confirms controls will be in place to ensure the work is being conducted safely.

Ongoing sampling and monitoring has and will continue to be provided for review by IDEM and EPA, which is also available to the public, following the completion of the pond closures for the long-term.

To learn more about NIPSCOs plan to close its ash ponds in Michigan City, and additional information visit NIPSCO.com/environment and reference CCR Data.

About NIPSCO: Northern Indiana Public Service Company LLC (NIPSCO), with headquarters in Merrillville, Indiana, has proudly served the energy needs of northern Indiana for more than 100 years. As Indiana’s largest natural gas distribution company and the second-largest electric distribution company, NIPSCO serves approximately 820,000 natural gas and 470,000 electric customers across 32 counties. NIPSCO is part of NiSource’s (NYSE: NI) six regulated utility companies. NiSource is one of the largest fully regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.7 million natural gas and electric customers through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. More information about NIPSCO and NiSource is available at NIPSCO.com and NiSource.com.