Alabama Power faces $1.25 million in proposed fines - FOX Carolina 21

Alabama Power faces $1.25 million in proposed fines

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The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM, is slapping Alabama Power with a $1.25 million proposed fine. That's because it says five power companies violated pollution regulations after dangerous chemicals were found in the groundwater surrounding coal ash pits. It's a concern for citizens because long-term exposure to the chemicals found can cause cancer and other health problems.

When power companies burn coal, federal regulations require the ash to be contained so toxins don't contaminate our water.  Alabama Power sampled the groundwater of more than 150 locations at five of their plants, pollutants were still left behind.

At the Barry Steam Plant in Mobile County, ADEM documents show, arsenic and selenium from coal ash pits in the groundwater nearby.  The Barry steam plant faces a $250,000 fine and so do the four other Alabama Power plants across the state, totaling $1.25 million.  Alabama Power Spokesperson Michael Sznajderman says the fines are unwarranted.

"We don't have any indication of any affect on any source of drinking water or that it opposes any risk to our neighbors or to nearby waterways or water sources," Sznajderman said.

Mobile Baykeeper Executive Director Casi Calloway disagrees, saying the alleged pollution could affect our wildlife and health. 

"Arsenic isn't good for anybody. We all know it's a poison so all of these metals can cause sever impact for public health. They also impact fisheries," Calloway said. 

Sznajderman said Alabama Power is reviewing ADEM's orders.

Meantime, the EPA is proposing more flexibility over the disposal of coal ash and said it would give electric utilities up to $100 million a year in compliance costs.

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