Alabama’s Coal Ash Problem

117.3 million tons. More than 52 groundwater violations.

At Alabama Power's Plant Barry, more than 21 million tons of toxic coal ash is stored in a 600-acre unlined pit, allowing toxic chemicals to contaminate groundwater and seep into the Mobile River. Toxic pollutants commonly found in coal ash include heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, selenium, chromium, and lead. Alabama Power’s own reporting shows that they are already leaking 806% the legal limit of arsenic into our groundwater.

Coal ash dam breaches are common, devastating, and expensive. Because of Plant Barry's location directly on the Mobile River in the middle of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, the coal ash stored there threatens nearby communities and our way of life - swimming, fishing, hunting, and boating on these waters. Unsafe containment of coal ash can also affect our economy - industries such as seafood, tourism, and real estate rely on clean water. Despite a $1.25 million fine (including $250,000 for violations specifically at Plant Barry) from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Power plans to leave their coal ash where it is with a band-aid measure called cap-in-place. Cap-in-place puts a liner over the top of the pit, leaving it unlined on the bottom. In Gadsden, this method has failed to stop groundwater pollution.

Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina are removing their coal ash to upland, lined landfills. We need Alabama Power to do the same.


The Latest News on Coal Ash in Alabama