Alabama Power announces inadequate preliminary coal ash closure plans

With many of Alabama's public drinking water intakes located downstream from or near coal ash storage sites, it is crucial that utilities and state agencies address the risks these impoundments pose to public health and the environment by moving the ash to dry, lined storage.  (© Jovian Sackett/SELC)

Alabama Power Company has announced details for its preliminary coal ash closure plans, proposing to leave behind the ash at all six of its coal plants throughout the state.

Although the utility stated last October it would close its coal ash storage ponds to comply with federal coal ash regulations, Alabama Power did not publicly release details of those closure plans until this week in order to meet the disclosure deadline under the federal rules.

“Alabama Power’s proposal to cap its ash ponds in place is extremely disappointing—cap in place does not stop or clean up pollution, nor does it protect the people of Alabama,” said Keith Johnston, Managing Attorney of SELC’s Birmingham office. “We have already seen this at both of TVA's northern Alabama sites, where pollutants that are also common coal ash indicators have been detected in the groundwater.”

In contrast to Alabama Power’s plans, other utilities in the Southeast are now excavating over 70 million tons of coal ash to dry, lined storage or recycling it for concrete.

Utilities that have done the appropriate analysis and excavated ash, such as SCE&G in South Carolina, have documented dramatic drops in groundwater contamination.  As a result of excavation and removal to dry lined storage by SCE&G at its Wateree plant near Columbia, arsenic groundwater contamination has plummeted by over 90 percent.

“These utilities are setting a standard for responsible handling of coal ash, which is the standard that Alabama Power can and should follow,” said Johnston. “As communities across the state face the prospect of having coal ash left submerged in groundwater and sitting in unlined pits next to rivers, lakes, and drinking water supplies, we urge Alabama Power to review its decision and excavate its ash to dry, lined storage.”

Read more about Alabama Power’s closure plans on AL.com: “Alabama Power plans to cap coal ash ponds in place; environmental groups urge removal”

More News

Federal court throws out pipeline’s Forest Service approval

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a federal approval for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two national forests and part of th...

Looking ahead to major energy decisions in 2019, Georgians demand Fair Energy Now

High power bills burden many Georgia families, but few know why that is or what they can do about it. To change that, SELC, Georgia Interfaith P...

Op-ed: Why we support the Chemours consent order

Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler and Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette laid out their case for settlement over GenX contamination in a piece publis...

SELC sues to stop seismic blasting in the Atlantic

Southern Environmental Law Center attorneys today joined a coalition of conservation groups in filing a lawsuit to stop the Trump administration...

Administration announces plan to gut clean water protections

Today the Environmental Protection Agency released a new proposal that, if approved, would remove clean water protections that have been in place...

Virginia officials reject Dominion IRP and ACP construction halted

Today the Virginia State Corporation Commission issued an order rejecting Dominion Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan, which lays out the utility’...

More Stories