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Update on Coal Ash at DEP-regulated Waste Connections JED Landfill

Published on: May 17, 2019

Updated: June 5, 2019


Osceola County, Florida – As permissible by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the privately-owned and operated Waste Connections JED Landfill in Holopaw has been accepting coal ash, sludge and bio-solids since it opened many years ago. The JED Landfill is a Class 1 facility, and is specifically permitted by DEP to receive coal ash – a non-toxic material, which contains trace quantities of metals similar to the levels of metals found in common soils.

For a list of delegation members, click here.



  • In total, 41 Class 1 Landfills in Florida accept coal ash.
  • In addition, Florida has 12 active coal ash monofill sites permitted by DEP. These are located onsite at power plants.
  • The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a “Frequently Asked Questions” document about the beneficial use of coal ash


OSCEOLA COUNTY BCC – Key Milestones:

As a privately owned and operated solid waste facility, the Waste Connections JED landfill is licensed and permitted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as delegated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA regulations are determined at the federal level; questions about those regulations and enforcement (including coal ash disposal) should be directed to the EPA. Questions regarding landfill operations should be directed to Waste Connections, or to the Florida DEP. In the past, the JED landfill has accepted coal ash from locations within the state of Florida. The recent amendment from the BCC allows the JED landfill to accept coal ash from Puerto Rico.

Osceola County is committed to protecting our vital natural resources, and adheres to all state and federal requirements. Current regulations require coal ash to be disposed of in a Class 1 facility, which is the status of the privately owned and operated Waste Connections JED Landfill.  However, on Monday May 13th the Board of County Commissioners at their regular meeting, and after much public testimony, voted to send a letter to the operators of the JED landfill requesting that they cease receiving coal ash from Puerto Rico into the JED landfill immediately.

In the meantime please know that in addition to permit requirements, landfill operators are mandated to submit to quarterly on-site inspections.  Those inspection records and more are available at  Operational management concerns should be directed to Florida’s DEP at 850-245-8705 or so they may be addressed during those inspections.



The dire situation in Puerto Rico – which does not have a Class 1 landfill for correct disposal -- was a motivating factor in the County’s decision.

05-16-19 Statement from Osceola County BCC Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb

“Approving the request from Waste Connections also allowed us to act in a humanitarian manner by assisting our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico in the still ongoing cleanup and recovery from the devastating hurricanes of the past few years. The simple fact is that resources are scarce in the Islands – and that includes Class 1 regulated landfills. As home to one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the United States, including storm evacuees, Osceola County is naturally sympathetic to their ongoing plight of our Puerto Rican residents and neighbors. However, after hearing from so many citizens – many of whom spoke passionately about their concerns – we have requested that Waste Connections voluntarily release us from the contractual agreement that was approved on April 1. Pending their reply, it is urgent that we acknowledge the key role of the Florida Department of Environmental protection in regulating the JED landfill.”



  • DEP has allowed coal ash from other locations to be disposed of at the JED landfill for a number of years – a situation repeated in Florida at 41 Class 1 landfills, as well as 12 coal ash monofills at power plants.
  • AES Puerto Rico has been transporting and disposing of coal ash in compliance with state and federal environmental regulations inside the mainland United States for several years.
  • The JED Landfill is regulated and permitted by the state and federal government and coal ash is allowed at the site. Coal ash disposal is regulated as a non-hazardous waste on both the state and federal levels.



  • Coal is the fuel source for approximately one-third of electricity generation in the United States and produces large volumes of solid coal combustion residuals — primarily ash and synthetic gypsum from emissions control devices.
  • According to the American Coal Ash Association, 111.3 million tons of coal combustion residuals were produced in the United States in 2017. About 64 percent of these materials were safely used in products such as concrete and wallboard that people come into contact with every day. But recycling markets at this time cannot accommodate all of the material, leading to nearly 40 million tons of ash disposal annually. Ash is routinely transported across state lines for both use and disposal.
  • The JED facility could receive up to 200,000 total tons by the end of 2019. The facility receives approximately 1.8 million tons of all types of waste each year, meaning the coal ash project would represent about 10 percent of the facility’s total volume. The total project potential represents approximately 0.005 percent of national coal ash disposal volumes.
  • The Puerto Rico ash has been thoroughly tested at certified laboratories to confirm it is below relevant regulatory thresholds used to determine acceptability prior to disposal at the JED facility. All results for the material are well within the EPA established limits. Analytical results include the required eight metals: Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, Selenium and Silver. The most limiting level established by the EPA is for Mercury at 0.2 mg/L or 0.2 parts per million, followed by Cadmium and Selenium at 1.0 ppm each. (A part per million is equivalent to one inch in sixteen miles, one second in 11.5 days, or one minute in two years.) Results for the Puerto Rico ash indicate levels of Mercury at 0.00009 mg/L. This means the Puerto Rico ash has Mercury levels at nearly one million times less than the regulatory limit to be disposed at a permitted Class I landfill. To review the test results click here.
  • DEP inspectors visited the JED Landfill facility earlier this month.  For a copy of the report please call the Central District office at 407-897-2914 or click here to review the report.



The JED Facility in Holopaw is a Class 1 landfill that is permitted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and built to meet federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Subtitle D requirements. The permit allows JED to accept industrial waste, including coal ash. The facility features redundant liners and leachate collection systems to prevent any leakage into ground water. These systems include:

  • Six (6) inch prepared subgrade.
  • Secondary geosynthetic clay liner.
  • Secondary 60 mil textured geomembrane.
  • Secondary geocomposite drainage layer.
  • Primary 60 mil textured geomembrane.
  • Primary geocomposite drainage layer.
  • Two (2) foot protective cover layer.
  • Leachate collection system. (All leachate is collected onsite and disposed of at FDEP permitted facilities.)