For Immediate Release: March 4, 2018
Contact: Casi (kc) Callaway, Executive Director & Baykeeper
Take Action Now! Tell Alabama Power to Move Toxic Coal Ash Away from the Mobile River!
Alabama Power Fined $1.25 Million for Coal Ash Groundwater Pollution
Preliminary groundwater data shows high levels of pollutants at Alabama Power’s Plant Barry
(Mobile, Ala.) - Alabama Power was recently fined $1.25 million by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) after releasing preliminary groundwater monitoring data showing pollution violations at all six of its power plants across the state, including Plant Barry, located adjacent to the Mobile River in North Mobile County. This federally required report shows significantly high levels of several coal ash pollutants - such as Arsenic, Boron, Chloride, Fluoride, pH, and Sulfate - in the groundwater beneath and around Plant Barry.
“This data shows exactly what we suspected,” said Casi (kc) Callaway, Mobile Baykeeper Executive Director & Baykeeper. “It is clear from Alabama Power’s groundwater monitoring results that the toxic pollution at Plant Barry is seeping through the unlined coal ash pit and contaminating the Mobile River and Delta - threatening our ability to swim, fish, work and play in these Coastal Alabama treasured waterways.”
This information, vitally important to public health and our natural resources, was not previously available to the public until it became a requirement under the federal Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule passed in 2015. Despite receiving ADEM’s highest penalty, Alabama Power has no current plans to stop this groundwater pollution. The results will require Alabama Power to conduct additional thorough testing and analysis of several more worrisome coal ash pollutants including arsenic, radium, mercury, and lead. While more analysis will be available soon, the initial 1,147 page report shows arsenic exceeded EPA standards 94 times since 2016 with levels exceeding the limits by up to 873%.
In November 2016, to comply with federal regulations, Alabama Power announced its preliminary coal ash closure plan to “cap in place” the coal ash at Plant Barry, leaving the ash to sit in an unlined pit and pollute the nearby groundwater for decades to come. According to Callaway, this data clearly demonstrates why the coal ash needs to be dug up and moved away from the river.
“The report provides clear evidence that Alabama Power is polluting our groundwater throughout Alabama. They cannot leave the coal ash sitting on the side of the Mobile River hoping we won’t notice. The only solution that guarantees our community and environmental health now and for the future is to dig up the coal ash and move it to an appropriate, upland lined landfill away from our rivers and vulnerable communities. Alabama Power has an opportunity to be a leader for all the citizens of Alabama by protecting our waterways.”
Contact Alabama Power officials and let them know you think they should dig up the coal ash and move it away from the Mobile River. Send our pre-drafted letter above or write one of your own.
To learn more about this issue and let Alabama Power know that leaving the coal ash in place is unacceptable, please visit www.mobilebaykeeper.org/coalash
Coal ash is the toxic waste that remains after coal is burned. It contains high concentrations of heavy metals, including mercury, arsenic, selenium, and chromium, which are hazardous to human health, wildlife, and waterways located in proximity to coal ash plants.
At Plant Barry, located 25 miles north of Mobile in Bucks, AL, more than 21 million tons of coal ash sits in a 600-acre pond directly adjacent to the Mobile River and Mobile-Tensaw Delta, one of the nation’s most biologically diverse ecosystems often referred to as North “America’s Amazon”. The ash is collected and then transported to a massive coal ash pond, where it essentially dissolves into the water in the pond. This toxin-filled water sits behind an earthen dam where it can leak into groundwater or potentially cause a catastrophic incident and spill into the nearby Mobile River.