Environmental Group Takes on Alabama Power Company in RCRA Action Over Coal Burning Practices

A complaint was filed on Monday in the Southern District of Alabama by Mobile Baykeeper, Inc. against Alabama Power Company. The complaint alleges that Alabama Power unlawfully made plans to store millions of tons of coal ash and toxic pollutants at a generating plant in Mobile County, Alabama.

The plaintiff is described in the suit as a “non-profit public interest organization with members in Alabama and the Mobile area and operating in the watersheds of the Mobile River and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.” Alabama Power is engaged in the business of producing, transmitting, and distributing electricity.

The plaintiff explains that the defendant’s plan is to store the substances in an unlined, leaking impoundment at the James M. Barry Electric Generating Plant, or Plant Barry. Mobile Baykeeper asserts that the defendant’s plans “will continue to impound groundwater and other liquids within the impoundments and will leave coal ash sitting below the water table, where coal ash will continue to leach pollutants into public waters… indefinitely.”

The Coal Combustion Residuals Rule requires the defendant to post its plans for the unlined coal ash impoundment on a website available to the public. The information made public by the defendant indicated their plan to leave 21 million tons of coal ash at Plant Barry, which means that large quantities of the coal ash will remain in contact with water. This aspect of the defendant’s plans violate the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as well as the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule (CCRR).

If the defendant is to move forward with its plans, the plaintiff contends that drinking, ground, and surface water could all be contaminated from the defendant’s discharges and pollution. Mobile Baykeeper states that the plan serves in “continuing the ongoing pollution of the water resources of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and creating a continuing danger and threat of catastrophic failure for Baykeeper and its members who own property and/or use and enjoy the waterways downstream.”

The complaint cites three counts of violations of both the RCRA and the CCRR. Plaintiff Mobile Baykeeper seeks favorable judgment on each count, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, litigation fees, and any additional relief deemed proper by the Court.

Mobile Baykeeper is represented by Southern Environmental Law Center and Richard Moore, Attorney at Law.