Documents Show Alabama Power Abandoned Previous Plans to Dig Up Coal Ash

For Immediate Release: November 12, 2018

Contact: Casi (kc) Callaway, Executive Director & Baykeeper 251-433-4229.


(Mobile, Ala.) - According to communications obtained by Mobile Baykeeper and the Southern Environmental Law Center, Alabama Power had at one point planned to dig up and move toxic coal ash away from the Mobile River site to a separate landfill.

A letter from Alabama Power officials to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dated March 24, 2016 shows Alabama Power requested a permit in preparation of removing coal ash from the Plant Barry ash pond. The letter, attached below, states that “the existing coal ash pond… will be cleaned-out and closed following strict guidelines...” It goes on to state, “closure activities will require that ash material be removed and hauled away to a permitted solid landfill.” This permit request clearly shows Alabama Power had previously intended to do the right thing to clean up their coal ash pollution.

Alabama Power publicly released plans in November 2016 to use a “cap in place” method. This plan is a complete reversal from the clear declaration made in the March 2016 permit request that Alabama Power would dig up and move the coal ash to a separate landfill. Capping the existing ash pond means leaving the coal ash in a pit that is known to be leaking pollution and covering the pond with a liner and dirt.  Unfortunately, rather than following through with earlier plans and choosing the far safer option of moving the coal ash, Alabama Power has prioritized cost savings over safety and is planning to leave the coal ash within a few hundred yards of the Mobile River.

Mobile Baykeeper Executive Director Casi (kc) Callaway said, “The letter to the Corps of Engineers clearly shows that Alabama Power has the ability and even had plans to remove coal ash from a leaking pit on the side of the Mobile River. Alabama Power’s change of plans is not in keeping with their commitment to the community. Coal ash spills in the Carolinas following Hurricane Florence show how one major storm could trigger a disaster 20 times larger than the BP Oil Spill.”

Callaway went on to say, “We need Alabama Power to be a leader on this issue and do the right thing. The only safe option is to dig up the coal ash and move it away from the river to a lined, upland landfill. Alabama Power was prepared to do the right thing in 2016, why not now?”

Read the communications between Alabama Power and the Corps here and related communications between the Corps and the Coast Guard here.
For high-resolution pictures of Plant Barry's coal ash pond
click here.

To read Mobile Baykeeper's detailed pollution report on Plant Barry's Coal Ash Pond, please click here.  

To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper’s work on coal ash, visit our site or call 251-433-4229.


Plant Barry is an electrical generation plant located about 10 miles north of Mobile city limits in Bucks, Alabama. On the plant’s property is an unlined 600 acre coal ash pond storing more than 21 million tons of coal ash. Coal ash, the byproduct of burnt coal, is extremely dangerous to public health and the environment and is proven to have leaked from Alabama Power Plant Barry’s coal ash pond alongside the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. International, national, and local media have all reported on the devastating effects coal ash spills have had on the Carolinas in the wake of Hurricane Florence’s massive floods.

Mobile Baykeeper is deeply concerned that the coal ash pond, only separated by an earthen (made from dirt) dam from the Mobile River, is susceptible to catastrophic failures similar to those that occurred after Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas. Previous research and reports released by Baykeeper show significant threats posed by the pond’s susceptibility to collapse, especially in the wake of a major weather event such as a hurricane.

Mobile Baykeeper’s report shows that Alabama Power’s preliminary decision to leave the coal ash in the pond at Plant Barry and “cap in place” is not a viable solution. As a result, Mobile Baykeeper urges them to choose the alternative that prioritizes the health of our communities, environment, and economy and remove it.

To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper’s work and events, or call 251-433-4229.

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Mobile Baykeeper is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization working to provide citizens a means to protect the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and our coastal communities. To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper, please visit our site.