Ky. coal plant to use byproduct as fertilizer

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm •  Published: April 22, 2013

The coal-fired plant uses pollution controls called scrubbers that spray a slurry of limestone across the exhaust gases, causing it to bond with the sulfur dioxide and keeping it from entering the atmosphere. The leftover gypsum byproduct is also used to make wall board and as a filler for concrete.

Gray said the gypsum that comes from power plants can be sticky and is not easily spread using farming equipment. Charah adds a binder to the dried gypsum and forms it into pellets. The product is called SUL4R-PLUS, and Charah said it dissolves faster that other sulfur-based fertilizers.

"It spreads just like fertilizer," Gray said.

Vic Staffieri, LG&E chief executive officer, said reusing the gypsum and shipping it away reduces the utility's storage needs and lowers customer costs.

The Mill Creek plant is also currently undergoing a $940 million upgrade to its pollution controls. The plant burns about 4 million tons of coal a year that comes mostly from western Kentucky, where coal has a higher sulfur content than coal mined in eastern Kentucky and other parts of the Appalachia.