Design and Permitting for the Breaching of R. Paul Smith Power Station Dam #4
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The R. Paul Smith Power Station is a retired coal-fired power station located along the left bank of the Potomac River near the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.

Prior to retirement, Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) management facilities at the site included an on-site landfill and two surface impoundments. Post-retirement, CCR materials contained within the landfill and impoundments were systematically removed from the site for beneficial reuse as feedstock in a local cement kiln. With all CCR removed from the site, the Owner determined the remaining surface impoundment, Dam #4 (WV ID. No. 00305), was a liability and requested Geosyntec prepare the necessary design documents and permit application to decommission dam by breaching.

Constructed in the 1960s, covering an area of approximately 13 acres, and with a maximum embankment height of 41 feet, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) classified Dam #4 as a Significant Hazard dam (WV Class 2). 

Geosyntec's Scope of Services

Geosyntec prepared the design analyses, drawings, and other documents necessary for the dam breach design. Our work began with assessing site conditions to determine an appropriate location for the breach along the dam's 2,100 ft. perimeter. With the breach location selected, Geosyntec estimated the design storm peak runoff discharge flow and water velocity, determined the size and shape of the dam breach, performed a geotechnical stability analysis of the breach side slopes, and designed permanent erosion control measures for the breach channel. The goal of our design was to demonstrate that after breaching, under design storm discharge (i.e., 05 PMP), the residual embankment did not exceed the storage volume or impoundment depth for classification of a dam, as defined in the Dam Safety Rules.

Geosyntec prepared the design and permit documents according to the requirements of the West Virginia, Coal Related Dam Safety Rules (Title 38 Administrative Rules, WVDEP, Division of Mining and Reclamation, Series 4) and packaged the design for First Energy's submittal to WVDEP.

As the Design Engineer for the project, Geosyntec supported the owner reviewing contractor submittals, responding to contractor requests for information, and preparing monthly construction status reports for submittal to WVDEP.   Geosyntec field staff provided full-time oversight and documentation of the construction activities and assisted with preparation of the project completion report. 

Notable Accomplishments

After completing the comprehensive design package and permit application, the decommissioning of Dam #4 WV ID. NO. 00305 was successful completed. Site work for removal of the CCR ash from within the basin was followed by breaching activities. The final construction report was submitted and approved by WVDEP.

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Project Summary

  • Location: Falling Waters, West Virginia
  • Client: FirstEnergy Corp.
  • Project Practice Areas: Environmental Management
  • Type of Facility: Coal-Fired Power Plant
  • Services Provided: Decommissioning Design for WV Regulated, Significant Hazard Dam; Construction Drawings and Permit Application; Engineering Support and Field Oversight; Project Completion Report and Certification
  • Type of Work: Design and Permitting
  • Governing Regulation: State and Federal