Alabama Power Faces $1.25 Million Fine for Groundwater Pollution from Toxic Coal Ash Pits
Birmingham, AL—Today the Alabama Department of Environmental Management announced Alabama Power will face a $1.25 million fine for on-going violations of groundwater pollution at several of its coal plant facilities across the state.
ADEM’s order cites on-going violations of the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act and ADEM administrative code after groundwater testing data submitted by Alabama Power showed contamination of groundwater with pollutants such as arsenic, lead, selenium, radium, and beryllium.
ADEM found groundwater contamination at five Alabama Power facilities, including the E.C. Gaston plant, Greene County plant, James H. Miller plant, James M. Barry plant, and the William C. Gorgas plant. In addition, ADEM has also fined PowerSouth Energy Cooperative for violations at its Charles R. Lowman plant.
“This confirms that Alabama Power has known about its groundwater contamination for years, but has chosen to withhold this information from the public until now,” said Keith Johnston, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Birmingham office. “There is nothing in ADEM’s orders that requires any meaningful clean-up of these sources of pollution. We are anxious to hear how the utilities will clean up this mess and protect our water.”
“Pollution from coal ash storage plagues Alabama's rivers statewide, and these recently released reports shine a light on the potential public health impacts that coal ash can pose to the people living around and downstream from these facilities,” said Curt Chaffin, Policy Director for Alabama Rivers Alliance. “While it’s encouraging that ADEM is taking action against these companies for contaminating groundwater, we now need them to develop strong state regulations that prevent future chronic contamination from the storage of coal ash.”
Today also marks the deadline for utilities under the national coal ash rule, known as the CCR Rule or Coal Combustion Residuals Rule, to post monitoring data for groundwater pollution from unlined coal ash lagoons and plans for corrective action. Last night, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to weaken the CCR rule provision that requires utilities to stop coal ash pollution and restore water resources to their natural conditions.
“This appears to be carefully orchestrated timing between Alabama Power’s requirement to release groundwater monitoring data today, EPA’s announcements to rollback coal ash rules last night and ADEM’s decision to file enforcement actions now,” said Johnston. “It begs the question–who is actually protecting the citizens of the state and our environment from industrial polluters?”
About Southern Environmental Law Center: For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 70 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org
About Alabama Rivers Alliance: Alabama Rivers Alliance is a statewide network of groups working to protect and restore all of Alabama’s water resources through building partnerships, empowering citizens, and advocating for sound water policy and its enforcement. For more information, please visit www.AlabamaRivers.org.