Coal Ash Wednesday: Not-so-sweet home Alabama


Power company informs Wilsonville Council and residents about "cap and leak" plan:

Tensions rose at times during Monday's Wilsonville City Council meeting, as a group of Alabama Power representatives spoke with the council members and Wilsonville residents about the company's plans to cover the 269-acre coal ash pond at the nearby E.C. Gaston Electric Generating Plant.

Wilsonville Mayor Lee McCarty and a handful of audience members asked pointed questions of the Alabama Power delegation, though many in the audience simply listened.

Thanks to an appearance by representatives of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) the day before, some pretty good questions were asked. But the answers they received were somewhere between vaguely misleading and downright lies:

Mike Godfrey, Alabama Power's general manager of environmental affairs, led the presentation with occasional input from environmental affairs specialist Dustin Brooks and supervisor of environmental affairs Tommy Ryals.

Many of the concerns voiced at the meeting revolved around contamination of groundwater or the Coosa River from chemicals contained in coal ash, notably mercury, arsenic, and lead. Brooks noted that these elements are also found naturally in the environment.

That "found naturally in the environment" should sound very familiar, because Duke Energy has used that technically correct yet irrelevant argument numerous times. Here's a whopper:

Alabama Power has previously said that removing the coal ash would be "orders of magnitude" more expensive than leaving it in place, although more precise estimates were not provided. Godfrey said Monday that removal would also take far longer, as shipping 23 million tons of material to an approved landfill offsite would take decades and create transportation issues for the town.

"It's basically about 50 years it would take, to do that," Godfrey said. "That's moving trucks five days a week, all day long."

Fifty years? The City Council should have booted his ass right out of that meeting for such nonsense, and you better believe that lie will come back to haunt him in a courtroom in the near future. Duke Energy moved over 5 million tons of coal ash into lined pits in 2016 alone, which would make that 23 million tons in Alabama about a five-year project. These people are trying to bullshit their way into doing next to nothing to protect citizens, and somebody needs to call them on it.