Alabama Power can plug a pool of coal ash – WKRG News 5
Environmentalists want utility to remove toxic sludge
MOBILE, Alabama (WKRG) – The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has ruled in favor of Alabama Power, approving its plan to deal with coal ash from the Barry steam power plant in northern County from Mobile.
A few feet from the Mobile River, Alabama Power has dumped 21 million tonnes of coal ash – the byproduct of coal combustion – into an unpaved retention pond over the past decades. Federal law now prohibits the process and utilities must dispose of the ashes.
ADEM says Alabama Power can drain water from the 30-acre pit, leave the coal residue and cover it.
Environmentalists are committed to continuing their fight.
“It’s going to leave 21 million tonnes of coal ash in an open pit mine on the side of a mighty and flood-prone Mobile River,” said Cade Kistler of Mobile Baykeeper. “It’s a bad decision.”
Mobile Baykeeper had advocated for Alabama Power to truck the sludge away from the river, across Highway 43 to a paved landfill.
This option, however, would cost three times the $ 2 billion that Alabama Power will pay to cover the pond.
Kistler says Baykeeper will challenge the decision, possibly in court and elsewhere.
“This is not the end,” he said. “I’ll say that. We are going to work with officials and look at all of our options to see what we can do, because it is irresponsible.
Environmentalists say the covered pond will be a time bomb, that flooding or storm surge from a major hurricane could breach the pond and send slurry into the Mobile River, destroying the ecology and 20 miles downstream to the port, the economy.
This is exactly what happened in 2008, near Kinston, Tennessee, where it took seven years to clean up after a breakwater dike broke.
Virginia and North Carolina have passed laws against what Alabama Power wants to do here
“Alabamians are treated differently and our environment, economy and communities deserve the same as our neighbors in other southeastern states,” Kistler said.