Niche industry touted as being in the best interests of coal, agriculture and the environment

04/22/2013 04:24 PM

A Kentucky company is using a $13 million public-private investment to convert a byproduct of burning coal into a needed soil supplement for Kentucky farmers.

Elected officials and energy and agriculture industry leaders celebrated Earth Day on Monday at the ceremonial opening of a new processing plant at LG&E’s Mill Creek coal-fired power plant in southern Jefferson County.

The Charah, Inc., facility will transform 300,000 tons of gypsum — a byproduct of coal combustion — into sulfur pellets that can be spread on Kentucky farm land to replenish sulfate levels.

The facility will employ up to 20 people and was built using the largest loan the Kentucky Agriculture Finance Corporation has ever granted.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said fertilizer dealers already are lining up to buy the pellets, which company officials say will be superior to current elemental sulfur fertilizers because the new SUL4F-Plus product can be applied during cold weather and dissolve immediately in the soil.

Comer also explained why sulfur is so necessary for Kentucky farms:

The development gives proponents of coal new fodder for their arguments that cleaner burning of coal and use of byproducts can keep the industry viable for power generation.

Charles Price, the CEO of Charah, and House Democratic Floor Leader Rocky Adkins said further recycling of coal byproducts are in the best interest of the state environmentally, and financially.


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