GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — On Tuesday, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management heard from concerned residents regarding Alabama Power’s coal ash waste storage in Gadsden.
The coal ash pond sits near Henry Neely Lake, which connects to the Coosa River. It’s less than a mile from Gadsden’s water treatment plant. Although the Gadsden Steam Plant’s coal ash waste has been capped since 2018, under new EPA guidelines, Alabama Power must obtain a permit to ensure the waste is store safely.
Jerome Hand with ADEM said they have a lengthy list of boxes to check in order to ensure Alabama Power is compliant.
“You should go to our website and visit our regulations page,” Hands said. “It’s 500 pages of regulations.”
Residents were given the floor to share their thoughts on Alabama Power’s handling of the waste. The Coosa Riverkeeper attended, and encouraged others in the community to speak out against keeping the waste so close to the river.
“The idea of keeping a coal ash pond full of known carcinogens, and toxins that are just poison– concentrated poison a 100 or so feet from a major river that moves and bends right there on the water table, I think logically, that makes zero sense.” Richy Gudson, a Birmingham resident, said.
Not everyone disapproved of Alabama Power’s plan. Several spoke in favor of approving the permit and keeping the waste where it is.
“Some would say it’s safer for the potential of spill or accidents with the trucking of this ash to some other site,” Seth Hammett with the Energy Institute of Alabama said.
No Alabama Power representatives attended the meeting. ADEM will be taking public comments through November 29th. Those comments will be taken into consideration when determining approval of the permit request.