Coosa RiverKeeper urges City of Gadsden to address pollution concerns at power plant

Local News

GADSDEN, Ala (WIAT) – The Coosa RiverKeeper is urging the City of Gadsden to take action against Alabama Power concerning groundwater pollution.

Coosa Riverkeeper Executive Director, Justinn Overton, says the concern is over a coal ash pond located on the bank of the Coosa River at the Alabama Power Gadsden Electric Plant.

“The Gadsden Coal ash pond is 0.6 miles upstream from the drinking water intake for the City of Gadsden,” said Overton. “Alabama Power’s own data shows it’s 100 times the legal limit of arsenic and 50 times the legal limit of radium are found at the well-monitoring sites surrounding this coal ash pond.”

Overton brought these concerns to the City of Gadsden Tuesday morning. The plant is no longer in operating, but Overton says the former coal ash pond still contains dangerous chemicals that can leak into the ground and river.

“Alabama Power’s methodology for this coal ash pond and the other eight coal ash ponds in the state is to cap in place,” said Overton. “Which means they will dewater the pond and leave it on the banks for your waterways. To continue causing groundwater contamination throughout your community.” 

Overton hopes the City of Gadsden will create a resolution requiring Alabama Power to remove the contaminants. The city says it is looking into the issue.

Alabama Power released the following information in response to the Coosa RiverKeepers:

  • The safety of our customers and the community is Alabama’s highest priority. We are committed to safely and permanently closing all our ash ponds and are committed to complying with all state and federal regulations.
  • The EPA rules for management and disposal of CCR sets out two options for the safe and effective closure of ash ponds, including the close-in-place method. EPA determined that both methods – close in place and close by removal – can be equally protective. ADEM regulations also allow close in place.
  • Alabama Power has evaluated conditions at Plant Gadsden and has no indication of any effect on any source of drinking water. Based on evaluations to date, none of the results detected pose a risk to neighbors, nearby waterways or water sources
  • Gadsden Water Works also tests for water quality and has found no indication of any issues with its drinking water.
  • We have proactively reported information to ADEM and will conduct additional groundwater monitoring at Plant Gadsden to determine whether any corrective actions are warranted. We will work closely with the agency to ensure the community’s safety.
  • Alabama Power has a strong record of working to protect the environment we all share. Over the past 15 years, the company has invested more than $4 billion on environmental controls at its power plants, resulting in significant reductions in emissions. The company also works with agencies and nonprofit partners to improve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species and conserve natural resources.
  • Alabama Power is committed to fully complying with all state and federal regulations and to maintaining open communication with the communities it serves. The company has proactively shared information with regulators, stakeholders, local governments, the community and media, and will continue to do so.”

Alabama Power completed closure of the coal ash pond at Plant Gadsden in 2018. Alabama Power says it is the first ash pond in Alabama Power’s system where closure has been completed.

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