Coal Ash: Here We Go Again

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management hosted a public meeting in January regarding the renewal of the E.C. Gaston Steam Plant National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit which included the coal ash pond and gypsum pond discharges. It was a well publicized public meeting and, in turn, had good public participation. 

We have been patiently waiting (for months now) on the announcement for a meeting regarding the Assessment of Corrective Measures (ACM) for Plant Gaston. Unfortunately, Alabama Power decided to quietly and discreetly make the announcement over two weeks ago… and we just heard about last week. 

So, what’s the big deal? Well there’s a few reasons why Alabama Power’s feeble attempt at their public notice is problematic. 

  1. The purpose of ACM’s is to identify and discuss potential corrective measures that would address the groundwater contamination caused by their leaking coal ash pond that holds over 20 million tons of coal ash. The sampling results showed showed that Alabama Power violated their permit conditions due to elevated levels of toxic chemicals that include: molybdenum, lithium, arsenic, boron, sulfate, cobolt, radium and lead. Currently, Alabama Power’s solution to this problem is to“cap in place,” or as we like to call it, pollute in place.  Check out a recent blog post that provides an explanation of the extent of this problem.  
  2. As part of the ACM process, Alabama Power is required to a host a public meeting to field ideas and concerns about possible solutions. In order for a public meeting to be effective, proper notice is essential so that the community has an appropriate amount of time to prepare their thoughts and work out the logistics of attending a public meeting. The first of these five meetings is set for June 29 and the last one is set for July 7. The lack of notice makes planning for these meeting particularly difficult for the community. 
  3. We’re living in crazy times, y’all. Despite the fact that cases of COVID-19 are currently increasing, Alabama Power thinks that now is an appropriate time to host a public meeting. While we are anticipating that precautions such as social distancing, cleaning,  and supplying masks will be in place, a representative with Alabama Power recently stated that a stream of the meeting would not be possible due to the format of the meeting. 

With these things in mind, this is the petition we are sending Alabama Power to address these issues. It is doubtful that they will postpone the meeting, so we encourage everyone who is planning on attending the meeting to follow the most recent CDC guidelines to protect yourself and others.  

The Gaston Steam Plant meeting will be held at the Wilsonville Baptist Church 9851 S. Main St. Wilsonville, AL 35186 on Monday July 6, 2020 from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm CST. 

Wanna learn more about coal ash in the Coosa Valley? Watch these two films!

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